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Inside the mind of the hiring company

"You check through your application, fire off the email and close your browser before you get tempted to read through it again. Then you put the kettle on and scratch around for something to do while you wait for the phone to ring."

Confessions to a client 


It’s no longer in your hands. At least, for now. But what actually happens when you click the ‘send’ button? Does your application pop out into a post room of magical recruitment elves who proceed to sort it into either the ‘good’ or the ‘bad’ pile?

Does it appear in the inbox of a jaded and overworked resourcing professional who clicks ‘delete’ and carries on browsing the showbiz column? What actually goes on behind the scenes?

In the latest in our series of articles on the hiring and job hunting process, we get some insight from the Internal Recruiter at a client of Tate, a leading office recruitment agency in the UK.

How do you normally approach a recruitment company?

Once we identify a hiring need, we’ll usually call or email them to arrange a meeting so we can discuss the requirements in more detail. Working with them over a period of time, we’ll keep them informed of any changes in the company and how these might affect our hiring requirements.

It also works the other way. Our recruiters might carry out sales activity to spread brand awareness and will often ask us and our candidates for referrals, which is mutually beneficial when it comes to spreading the word.

What kind of skills do you ask for when looking for a PA?

It’s important that we get the right personality and skill fit for the executive they’ll be supporting. The candidate will be working with this person all day every day, so it’s crucial that they get on with them. At interview stage for higher level roles, we look for proven experience of building a successful working relationship, evidence of how the candidate supported the executive in their previous role and clarity on the skills they have.

The key skills we ask for include diary management, experience of making travel arrangements (whether these were global or involved arranging itineraries) and we also try to get an understanding of the depth of the support they were giving to the exec – whether they were the sole gatekeeper.

What questions do you ask the most?

We ask about their culture fit for the team and the organisation – whether there’s any danger of a personality clash with the executive – and about their working style.

How many PA candidates do you normally receive from recruiters?

We tend to get three or four good candidates, which is just right for us. It’s better to receive a handful of candidates who are all worth interviewing than having to sift through a huge number of applicants, many of whom won’t be suitable. Thankfully, our recruiters try and provide people who specifically match our working culture and the skills for each role.

How long does it take you to give feedback to the recruiter when you meet the right candidate?

We’ll tell them as soon as possible after the interview, either on the same day or the day after at the latest. The fact is, the best candidates won’t hang around. So if we don’t move quickly, we know someone else will.

Who decides the steps of the recruitment process? The hiring company, the recruiter or both?

We work together to agree a recruitment plan. Generally speaking, we’ll let our recruiter know when we want the person in place and we’ll then leave them to arrange interviews, consider notice periods, etc. The recruiter will consult us on the market and our expectations

Tate is a specialist office recruiter and PA jobs in London. To find out more about how Tate can help you find the best office jobs, register on our website and like our Facebook page.