First, the good news: Your business is growing. The bad news? So is your inbox, your accounting records, your data entry backlog ... the list goes on.

If this sounds like you, it could be time to hire an office clerk. These professionals take care of everyday tasks such as filing, data entry, mail handling and liaising with other administrative teams across departments.

But the job description needn’t stop there. Hire the right person and you may find they quickly take on other responsibilities, from basic accounting processes to inventory control.

Because a skilled and focused office clerk can make the difference between a chaotic workplace and one that’s running smoothly, the best candidates are in demand. To maximize your chances of making a great hire, you need to plan your recruitment strategy carefully and move through the stages as quickly as possible.

Compile a skills wish list

Before drafting your job post, you need a clear idea of what and who you’re looking for. It may help to break down your wish list into three skills and experience categories — essential, nice-to-have and soft skills.

  • Essential skills and qualifications — As a minimum, you should expect office clerk candidates to have a high school diploma and some experience working in an office environment. They should be comfortable creating and editing documents using Microsoft Word, as well as entering data into simple spreadsheets or databases. The ability to speak clearly, confidently and professionally to customers and clients is also a skill that should be near the top of your wish list.
  • Nice-to-have skills — Some office clerks are highly proficient typists, can operate accounting software and have experience taking minutes in meetings. A new team member with these or similar skills can hit the ground running. But beware of expending too much time and energy looking for the perfect candidate. A smart, motivated person who wants to learn on the job — and is a great fit with your office culture — could be a better fit than someone who already has these skills but doesn’t mesh with the team.
  • Soft skills — Desirable soft skills depend on factors like the management style of whoever the new hire will report to. Are you looking for an assertive, enterprising employee who pushes to take on new responsibilities? Or would a calm, patient team player who is happier doing routine or repetitive tasks be the stronger hire?

Write a compelling office clerk job description

You get only one chance to make a good first impression, so make it count. Paint a picture of your company and its organizational culture, giving prospective employees an idea of what it’s like to work there and why they should apply.

Ensure your office clerk job ad is well-written, clear and concise. A good structure looks like this:

  • Title — clearly stating Office Clerk, with no quirky variations that confuse search engines
  • Job type — permanent, interim, full time or part time
  • Responsibilities — the tasks they’ll be responsible for, in order from most to least important
  • Essential skills — every job candidate must be able to tick these boxes
  • Nice-to-have skills — icing on the cake, clearly distinguished from the essential skills
  • Any other information, including about company culture, that can help candidates decide if they’re a good fit

Customize your job interview questions

Prepare for interviews by drafting a set of core questions for every candidate. Then supplement these with talking points tailor-made for each individual. The latter set of questions allows you to dig deeper into each interviewee’s abilities and gives the applicant a chance to reveal more about themselves than they can in a resume.

Tried-and-trusted interview questions for the office clerk role include:

  • How do you handle repetitive or mundane tasks?
  • Can you tell me about a time when you had a problem dealing with a coworker and how you resolved it?
  • How would your colleagues describe you?
  • What sort of work environment brings out the best in you?
  • What do you think are the top three attributes of a great office clerk?
  • Tell me how you organize and prioritize your work.
  • What do you see yourself doing in five years’ time?
  • What do you know about technology that most of your coworkers don’t?

Red flags to watch out for include overly negative responses, a tendency to blame others and answers that suggest a lack of flexibility.

Research office clerk salary information

The Robert Half Salary Guide will show you the starting salary projections for an office clerk and many other administrative and customer support roles. You can even adjust your findings by location to get an idea of what you might be expected to pay.

Enlist the help of staffing experts

Need an office clerk’s help quickly? You need to strike the right balance between acting fast and acting judiciously. One way is to work with a specialized talent solutions firm such as Robert Half. With their deep knowledge of the broader hiring landscape, recruiters can find exceptional workers for all kinds of companies. Just be sure to give your recruiter a clear idea of your ideal office clerk so they have a thorough understanding of your staffing needs and can evaluate candidates effectively.