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We know finding, training, and retaining highly effective admissions counselors is tough. The constant pressure to hit goals can be hard on an enrollment team, especially the frontline admissions counselors.

Burnout, the lure of higher paying jobs, or just poor performance are the realities that enrollment directors have to face when managing an admissions team – and those realities don’t care that your August goals have not been met. So, how do you combat those challenges – and how do you assemble an unstoppable team?

You have to go upstream and make sure you’re hiring talent that is mentally fit for the high-pressure, high-touch job of being a successful admissions counselor. An admissions counselor who doesn’t just take orders or hope for an application, but one who knows how to attract, nurture, and convert adult students.

In this three-part blog series, we’ll highlight 1) ways you can ensure your institution is searching for and hiring candidates who are the right fit for a role in nontraditional admissions, 2) tactics and training to keep your recruiters motivated, and 3) how to help them perform consistently.

Part 1: Securing Top Talent

We begin with our philosophy on hiring and retaining candidates who are the right fit for nontraditional admissions. Our years of experience in hiring, onboarding, and retaining successful admissions professionals have taught us to ask the right questions in the right way and focus on the following key elements when recruiting and interviewing:

  • Inspiration – Admissions professionals must be inspired by this work and able to use that inspiration to motivate prospective students to enroll at your institution. To determine if a candidate believes in the important role of admissions and can motivate prospective students to enroll, ask him or her to share a real-life example of a time he or she motivated or inspired someone to take action.
  • Empathy – Admissions professionals should be able to understand and share the feelings and concerns of others in order to build effective rapport. A great way to learn more about a candidate’s listening skills and ability to empathize is to ask about a time he or she influenced change in a person or process by only asking questions.
  • Discipline – Admissions professionals have to be disciplined in their approach to converting leads to students. Ask your candidate to explain how he or she maintains self-motivation when a set-back occurs on the way to achieving a goal.
  • Accountability – To be successful, admissions professional must work well independently and with a team to achieve common goals. They must be able to track and manage their activities and understand how each activity leads to a conversion. A good way to assess accountability is to ask your candidate to share an example of a time when he or she had to solve a problem with very little guidance.

When interviewing candidates, you’ll want to ask at least four to five questions in each of the above-mentioned areas. But asking questions is not enough. As professionalism and comfortability with public speaking are all just as important in admissions, you’ll want to assess how your candidate answers each question. Is he or she able to think quickly and answer with confidence and poise, or is there a long pause and obvious insecurities coming through? Remember, your admissions team is the frontline for prospects, and they represent your department on campus. It is critical that they are inspired, empathetic, disciplined, and accountable.

Here at Rivetica, we work with our clients to assist them in hiring the right candidates who they can trust to represent their institutions well and recruit new enrollments. If you could use a partner who can help you identify the right candidates to join your team, or with any of Rivetica’s marketing, admissions, or academic solutions, we’d be happy to connect.

Join us in a few weeks for Part 2 as we talk about the importance of training well and training often.


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