Finding a star secretary when you’re working in Thailand

Working in Thailand

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Finding great staff is difficult anywhere in the world, but this task is made even harder if you searching in Thailand. Even when you’re working in Thailand, it’s a different country with a different culture. It is important you are aware of what they are looking for as well as what you and your Thai business needs, this way it is more likely to work out for both parties.

The first thing that you need to do is advertise in the areas that will give you the greatest exposure to the best talent. For this you could consider internet forums such as Thai Visa or Craigslist as these will be well known by the majority of Thai’s who have a decent understanding of English. Other useful websites that you could consider for advertising are: JobsDB, Monster, Careerjet and Tip Top Job. Alternatively, you could use the free classifieds in the Bangkok Post.

A novel way that will appeal to Thai staff is to offer an incentive scheme whereby if a member of staff recommends someone, and they stay beyond a stated probation period the member of staff gets a bonus. Thai employees always love bonus schemes like this and they will be happy to recommend their friends and former work colleagues who they feel could do a good job. Most importantly, advertise in a few different places to try and get as much interest as possible.

Once you know where to advertise you then need to be specific about the skills and qualifications you are looking for. The first criteria you need to look for is the candidate’s ability to speak English. In the advert you could do this by requesting their IELTS score (where English is judged on a score of 1-9). You may say you require someone with a minimum IELTS score of 5 and candidates must put their score on their resume. You may also be interested in what degree they have, both the subject and the grade. You may want to know which university they went to, so you need to make sure that this is included in the resume and stress this in the advert. As it’s a star secretary you are looking for you will probably be interested in their typing skills so make sure you stress how many words per minute you are looking for. Knowledge of Microsoft Office is also a must so again should be included it the advert and of course finally, any other skills you consider relevant.

After you place the ad you’ll now be starting to get a number of applications flooding in, and then the work starts as you sort the grain from the chaff. It’s likely you will receive 50+ applications so a good starting point is sort out all the ones who have ALL the skills that you asked for in the advert. This not only shows that they have the necessary skills (on paper at least) but can also follow instructions. Depending on how many are left, this determines your next cull or otherwise. For instance if you had 15 applicants left, this would be still too many to realistically interview so you would need to reduce this further – ideally to around 5. You may decide that you only want candidates who went to certain universities or have an IELTS score of 7.

Perhaps someone has additional skills that you feel would be beneficial to your particular business. This further reducing of numbers is very specific to your particular business. At the interview stage make sure you take notes about answers given. Talk to the candidate about their previous experiences to get a feel not only if they are suitable for you but also if their level of English is what they say it is. Get the candidate to write in English and also answer questions specific to you business. For example ‘if a client wanted X, what would you do?’ Also ask them about themselves and makes notes.

Once you have completed the initial interview it is advisable to bring back preferred candidates for a second interview. Referring to your notes from the previous interview ask questions about the answers they gave previously – but in a roundabout manner. The aim of this is to check that the answers are consistent and truthful. If you happy with what you hear, it is down to you to make the hopefully difficult choice of who you are going to employ in your Thai business.

In reality, it is probably now down to how you interact on a personal level; can you work together and trust each other?