There’s every reason to believe that scheduling volumes—which were down dramatically this year for obvious reasons—will rebound to some degree next year. If that happens, one of the positions you’ll want to be sure to have properly staffed is scheduling assistant. This is a key role, of course, since these team members have to interact effectively with customers as well as with setup crews and other internal stakeholders.
“Must Haves” for Your New Scheduling Assistant
What qualifications should you look for in a scheduling assistant? Based on our familiarity with the role from decades in the scheduling business, and also on our review of many current job postings, we recommend looking for candidates with these seven key qualifications:
- Effective interpersonal communication skills. Are they able to communicate well both with customers and internal stakeholders? And by “well,” we mean are they able to get the information required from customers and the action needed from other staff members? Being a “good conversationalist” isn’t enough. They’ve got to be able to produce the desired results.
- Excellent attention to detail. Entering a setup count of 10 when it should have been 100 can be disastrous. A scheduling assistant has to be highly focused in their work to ensure that information is being received and shared correctly.
- Demonstrated dependability and accountability. As important as this role is, you need someone who has an excellent attendance record in previous roles and who is known to be accountable to external and internal stakeholders.
- Ability to multitask effectively. A scheduling assistant has to be a skilled “juggler” in order to keep multiple event requests that are at different stages moving forward simultaneously. Part of this requirement is being calm under pressure, since the people a scheduling assistant deals with (both externally and internally) tend to “want what they want when they want it,” so to speak!
- Good basic computer skills and willingness to learn new systems. You want an employee who can quickly get comfortable with your event scheduling system, word processing and spreadsheet programs, etc. If you have an intuitive scheduling solution like Mazévo, little training (if any) will be required, but the person has to be comfortable getting in and “exploring” so that they understand the system’s capabilities and how they factor into your scheduling processes.
- Ability to work with people of diverse backgrounds and potentially with competing interests. In short, you need someone who is diplomatic and knows how to find a win-win when, for example, a customer wants an unnecessarily complex room setup and your event services crew is pushing back.
- Ability to understand and adhere to rules and regulations. If the maximum capacity for a room is 30 based on fire code, a scheduling assistant can’t “bend the rules” even when talking with the most persistent or persuasive of customers. It’s not easy to say “No” and stick to it, but it’s a critical skill in this business.
You may have other requirements for candidates that are specific to your organization, but if a person has the skills and character traits listed above, they should certainly be on your short list.
One Final Qualification: Team Chemistry
The best scheduling departments work like well-oiled machines. There’s no internal friction, and events move smoothly from request to planning to execution. Ideally, an interview should include both time for a candidate to answer specific questions and some time for unstructured conversations with key members of your different teams. All other factors being equal, a person who seems to have good chemistry with existing staff may be the best employee in the long run.