How To Hire Office Managers by Gary Buswell on Feb 13, 2018

Bringing an Office Manager on board could be a good move if you’re a small team looking to expand or add a bit of focus to the team. This short guide looks at what Office Managers do, what skills and characteristics they should have, and most importantly, how to test those skills and draw out the best candidates with the right questions.

What do Office Managers do?

Your Office Manager is the one who keeps the administrative side of the business on track, making sure that things run smoothly on a day-to-day basis. 

Although hiring an Office Manager may not feel like an essential consideration for a fledgling startup or a small business, it’s a wise move if owners find themselves getting bogged down in the day-to-day running of the business. This makes it difficult to concentrate on stuff they should be focusing on, e.g. business strategy and driving things forward.

Depending on the size of the business, Office Managers may be required to manage other administrative staff. An Office Manager’s remit can be quite broad or it can be narrow and focused, depending on how much responsibility you want to give them. 

Typically, their duties will include: 

  • Ordering and updating office equipment
  • Managing/recruiting any administrative staff
  • Organizing office events and meetings
  • Managing the office space, including ensuring the office is clean and scheduling repairs
  • Handling the office budget and negotiating contracts and prices with vendors and service providers
  • Overseeing office operations and procedures
  • Maintaining office records and documentation

What skills to look for in Office Managers?

what skills to look for in office managers

Organizational skills – imperative, considering you’ve more than likely brought in the Office Manager to make things more organized. There will be plenty of multitasking involved so you’ll need someone efficient who can keep on top of everything.

Attention to detail – Office Managers are responsible for many things where a high level of accuracy is required, e.g. ordering supplies and maintaining records. Mistakes could cost the company money or cause serious problems, so you’ll need someone who can stay focused.

Communication skills – Office Managers are often the chief point of contact in the office, liaising with external visitors, dealing with phone calls and answering emails. If they are managing a team, they will need to be able to communicate effectively with staff, motivate them and sometimes diffuse conflicts.

IT skills – most likely there will be a lot of work involving spreadsheets and data entry, so a good command of Microsoft Office or whichever other tools your team is using should be a minimum requirement.

Leadership skills – the ability to get the best results out of the team, coordinate them effectively and know how to deal with staff that is underperforming.

Administrative skills – Office Managers should be able to demonstrate basic office skills, such as dealing with paperwork, filing records, familiarity with office systems and procedures, and ability to deal with equipment such as printers and scanners.

Cultural fit – more of a characteristic than a skill as such, but you’ll want someone who is a good personality match for the business, who will understand its aims and objectives and will share the aspirations of other team members.

Analytical skills – if you can hire someone who can analyze the administrative systems in place and come up with viable improvements, you could end up saving the company money.

How to hire Office Managers?

You can find suitable candidates for Office Manager posts via referrals, social media, job boards or recruitment agencies. Whichever method you choose, you’ll want to be sure you’re getting someone with good skills fit. 

Office Manager role is typically a very popular position, attracting hundreds of applicants. After interviewing dozens of Office Managers and hiring managers who’ve recruited them, we’ve found that the best way to find that perfect Office Manager is through a short skills challenge.

Harvard Business Review suggests that conducting a skills test as the initial recruitment step is more effective than using resumes to weed out least-suitable candidates. This is especially important when hiring for Office Manager roles. Here’s why:

#1 Skills tests test actual job-related skills rather than ability to sell yourself on a resume.

People can exaggerate their abilities and achievements on a resume, then fall short when it comes to walking it like they’ve talked it. Setting up a few questions to test applicant’s organizational skills, attention to detail, communication skills, cultural fit etc, however, makes it thousand times easier to tell if the applicant is fit for the job or not.

#2 Skills tests eliminate bias.

Studies have shown that recruiting through resumes often leads to hiring managers taking on employees similar to them rather than the best candidates for the job. That’s because we’re human and we often make false assumptions and pre-judgements based on the information we see on a paper in front of us. Shifting focus from resumes to applicant’s actual skills and job fit eliminates all this bias.

#3 Skills tests can save the company time and money.

Going through a stack of resumes can be very time-consuming. Automated skills testing, however, immediately eliminates unsuitable candidates leaving you with the pick of the crop to choose from.

As your Office Manager is a crucial team member who needs to be high-performing and able to hit the ground running, you can’t afford to make the mistake of hiring the wrong person who is great on paper but can’t cut the mustard on the ground. That’s why a well-designed job simulation test can ensure that you get the best match for the role. 

Read on: How to Use Skills Tests For Better & Faster Candidate Screening 

Office Manager interview questions

Here is a small sample of questions you could ask Office Manager candidates instead of trying to evaluate them based on their resumes and cover letters.

1. Organizational skills

organizational skills question

Organization of meetings and events usually falls to the Office Manager. Test that candidates have the know-how when it comes to doing this. 

You’ll be looking for candidates offering a clear and creative plan here (researching into suitable dates/times, use of incentives to attract people, invites and follow-up reminders to the right people). 

Red flags here would be reliance on a singular method (e.g. sending out a mass email invite) or failure to use incentives.

2. Leadership skills

leadership skills question

This question tests how well a prospective Office Manager can deal with the common problem of employee under-performance.

3. Communication skills

communication skills question - office manager

This offers candidates the chance to demonstrate that they can use tact and politeness in basic email communications, as well as showing they’re OK with basic written communication. Red flags would be emails that are too blunt (no mention of thanks or that the product was enjoyed), too informal or grammatically incorrect. 

Further reading: 100 Soft Skills Questions To Help You Hire Top Talent 

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