Interview Rules and Red Flags

The process of hiring an assistant, whether it is your first or your tenth is always faced with some level of trepidation.  We all want to find the perfect assistant and never have to go through the hiring process again anytime soon.  We try to find clues during the interview process that point to a candidate’s potential for success or failure on our team. As much as there are things to look for in an assistant, there are also a few warning signs, or red flags, you want to look out for and avoid.  Here are the top 5 warning signs that should make you think twice before taking someone on.

  1. They are a current Agent that wants to become an assistant

It may seem that an experienced agent who knows the ropes would make for a good hire.  However, for a number of reasons agents make poor assistants.  For one, the personality type and habitual behaviors that makes for a good agent is quite different than that of a good assistant.

If you are familiar with the DISC behavioral assessment tool, you’ll remember that we all contain varying degrees of each of the four personality traits; Dominance, Influence, Steadiness, and Compliance.  Agents tend to have a higher amount of Dominance and Influence, making them “take charge” people assertive in action and convincing in communication.  Both are leadership qualities excellent for performing the tasks of an agent, such as lead generation and negotiating.

Individuals with more strength in the Steadiness and Compliance departments tend to make for better assistants.  They exude the qualities of patience, persistence and thoughtfulness that are hallmarks of Steadiness.  Compliance, in this case, is not considered a weakness but a strength that relates to structure and organization.

In reading these two personality portraits, who would you rather have as an assistant?

  1. They can’t provide their direct supervisors as references at previous jobs

Companies fold, merge, and change name on a regular basis these days.  In the event a previous company of employment simply doesn’t exist anymore, it’s reasonable to expect references may be difficult to come by.   However, if a potential employee has a problem providing contact information for their previous supervisors, mark it as a warning signal.  It could indicate a troubled employment history or termination for cause.

  1. They lack outstanding follow-up skills during the interview process

Has the applicant followed up with you after the initial interview in a professional and timely manner?  Do they exhibit a sincere desire and interest in the job?  The level of thoroughness of a candidate’s follow-up during the interview process is a good indication of how they will follow-through once on your team.

  1. They live more than 45 minutes away

Traffic is a factor everywhere today, whether you work in a major metropolitan area, suburb or smaller town.  If your assistant lives more than 45 minutes away the chances for delays caused by traffic or other factors are more likely to cut into your work day.  Hiring someone with less of a commute will cut down on everyone’s stress and increase productivity.

  1. Their resume is poorly formatted

Even if a candidate’s resume demonstrates good skills and experience, a poorly formatted resume is cause for concern.  First impressions in any business, especially real estate, are of paramount importance.  A sloppy resume indicates how the applicant chooses to present themselves and their sense of aesthetics, and shows their level of comfort with MS Word.

Conversely, there are some factors that are not cause for concern that may have raised an eyebrow in years past.

  1. Recent gaps in their resume

Even the best assistants have had trouble finding work in the last few years.  The most highly skilled and therefore highest paid assistants have had the toughest time finding work.  If you see a one or two year gap in someone’s resume, simply be sure to ask what they filled that time with.  Many people have gone back to school to learn new skills, have chosen to spend time with their young ones, or have been doing work as an independent contractor.  That kind of work might not be mentioned on their resume, but may still be relevant to the position you’re offering.

  1. A recent job outside of real estate

When the real estate market hit bottom, several assistants left the industry after being laid off and are now trying to get back in.  Not to worry if they left a real estate position in 2008 or 2009 and worked in another industry for the past few years to survive.  Although there have been some industry changes, the basics remain the same and a solid assistant will catch up in no time.

  1. Short job tenure during the past 3 years

In the last few years, company closings and downsizing have been so common that even good employees have been faced with multiple layoffs.  In this case, it is helpful to verify employment and confirm that they were actually laid off and not fired for cause.

We hope that these guidelines prove helpful to you in this exciting team-building time in your career!  If you need further hiring assistance, ProREA Staffing is expert in finding and hiring excellent support staff.

To your success!