BOWER Talent was set up with a single aim and purpose – to place outstanding support staff into the roles they deserve. What started as only PA/EA and Office Manager roles quickly expanded to include a wide range of supporting positions such as Receptionists, Operations Managers, Team Assistants, Chiefs of Staffs, etc.

BOWER was founded by 2 ex-PA’s, and everyone in the team has worked in a supporting role of some kind. As such, we understand that to be successful in high level support roles requires a certain amount of determination, grit, emotional intelligence and strength of character. And we haven’t even got started on skillset yet…

So how do we assess our candidates for this? Well to some, our recruitment process might seem overly thorough, but for us it’s the absolute bare necessity to get an overview of our candidates.

Our 3-step registration process:

  1. Initial phone call with the candidate
  2. Candidate completes registration process including two tests* (BOWER’s in-house diary management assessment and gamification tests through MindX)
  3. In-person meeting at BOWER office

*We would never disregard a candidate if they didn’t do well at these tests. We encourage second attempts, and especially welcome those who are keen to improve. Our tests enable us to create a better picture of a candidate’s skillset, and in many ways even completing the tests is in itself, a test!

When we meet with our candidates, there are 5 qualities that we look for over everything else, as it’s proven to be a winning combination for our clients! We are sharing our secret sauce with you all, because if you can nail these 5 points, or find these 5 qualities in your next hire then you are onto a winner…

#1. Confidence/personability

When we meet with our candidates one of the first qualities we assess for is confidence. It is absolutely key for interview situations, and essential if they want to prove they can do the job. When we ask them about their skills and experiences, how confident are they in their abilities? Do they talk confidently about their experiences and successes?

We literally want our candidates to ‘sell themselves’ to us! That doesn’t mean that they need to wheel off their elevator pitch and go overboard, but they should be comfortable highlighting their strengths and attributes, without us needing to ask.

Whilst confidence and personability don’t always go hand in hand, it always helps to be confident in your communications – build a rapport with the consultant/interviewer, as they will be much more likely to remember someone they got on well with.

#2. Enthusiasm

The roles that BOWER Talent recruit for require the highest level of organisation, so it goes without saying that we expect our candidates to be prepared for our meetings. There’s nothing more disheartening as a recruiter than thinking that you’ve found the perfect candidate for the job, only to find out that they really couldn’t care less about the company or role, as they haven’t done any research..! Doing your research into the role and company is definitely the best way to show genuine enthusiasm.

Enthusiasm is an especially important quality for us at BOWER; as recruitment professionals we deal with large volumes of candidates and people on a daily basis, so as much as we want to help everybody, we can only truly help those who help themselves. Not responding to emails or showing up to appointments is a sure-fire way to make a bad impression.

#3. Presentation / articulation

Appropriate dress for an interview will of course change depending on venue/location, but it’s pretty much a good rule of thumb to always ‘dress to impress’. Know your audience, and if in doubt, err on the smart side of smart-casual.

A senior PA or EA role requires a strong sense of social awareness, whether in diligently supporting a CEO or MD, or in dealing with clients and colleagues, so being able to articulately present yourself is an invaluable skill. Self-awareness to remedy fast talking, rambling tangents (a personal weakness) and colloquialisms (OMG! WTF!), is a must.

#4. Sharpness

Often an assistant’s desk is one of the busiest in the company. They will have a large amount of problems thrown in their face most days, so need to be quick to think of solutions. As such, we expect our top candidates to be ready for any question we throw at them. OK, so maybe not any question but it is important to have answers to key competency questions about things like ‘strengths and weaknesses’, impressive workplace behaviour, handling criticism etc. Of course, one of the best ways for a candidate to stand out is to impress the interviewer with interesting questions, or ones they may not have heard before.

#5. Taking Feedback

This is a biggie for BOWER! We strongly believe that you can never improve yourself unless you seek the feedback and constructive criticism of those around you. Now there’s definitely some feedback you can take with a pinch of salt (#bossinabadmood), but it’s always interesting to know how you are perceived by others. We believe that to be successful in anything (and we want all of our candidates to be successful in their roles!), you should be receptive to feedback, or at the very least willing to grin and bear it.

Melissa Smith, BOWER Consultant says “we find that whether you’re relatively new in your career or have lots of experience, there is always something that you could do to improve your performance in an interview, or in your role, so always be open to hearing other opinions. You’re always going to receive negative feedback in your job so how you respond to that is crucial.

Even if you don’t nail the other points, but you are receptive to feedback then we are more than happy to guide you towards success. We hold a lot of value in candidates who ask for advice and take feedback well in order to better themselves.”

To conclude, we recommend always looking for and taking on board feedback, whether you’re an assistant or CEO, and going out of your way to ask for it is key (although not always easy)!

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