As an employer looking for the ideal clerical candidate, it can seem like each resume is as good as the last. Buzzwords and marketing speak abounds, while you can’t quite get a good idea of who will really be able to perform on the job. Interestingly enough, there are a few key traits that you can identify and prioritize to help find the best employee for an administrative position, and they might not be what you think. This article will discuss the most common and influential traits of a successful clerical candidate, and how you, as a hiring manager, can quickly spot these qualities.

Communication Skills

While great communication skills are likely to show up on just about any resume you come across, don’t forget that a resume and an interview are two immediate examples of a candidate’s communication skills in action. Communication is about more than writing and speaking. Listening is key, as well. Look beyond the words, and consider how a candidate describes their successes as a communicator. Do they provide high-quality examples of their communication skills in action? Are they results oriented, and able to present themselves well on paper as well as in person? Those are the skills you are looking to identify.

Organizational Skills

Organization is another skill that is better shown than described. If a candidate is able to stay organized through a job-search process — or rather, you may be able to identify that they are not — this is a good sign as to how they will perform as an employee. Real organization requires time management and planning skills to really maintain control over a wide variety of tasks and deliverables in a fast-paced and stressful work scenario. Look for examples of how your candidate kept things on track in severe situations, and if they don’t provide any, ask.

Prioritization and Time-Management Skills

Clerical work is often about finding time to do the work, as much as doing the work itself. Planning, prioritizing, and managing the amount of time spent on any one particular task are all elements of a successful administrative professional’s skill set. Key indicators of these skills include punctuality, the ability to meet deadlines, consistency, and reliability. Ask a candidate about their prioritization process. They should be able to describe their thinking when approaching such decisions, and provide examples of past projects where their prioritization and time-management skills were put to the test.

Confidentiality and Reliability

Clerical workers and administrative assistants are often the backbone of a successful business. They provide much-needed support for a company, manager, or team. It is not an easy job to be relied on by so many other employees, and maintaining a strong sense of accountability, responsibility, and confidentiality is a good indicator of a quality employee. The best way to identify these qualities in a candidate is to evaluate how they speak about previous employers. How they describe their previous interactions with co-workers and managers within a clerical position is a good indicator of how they will describe their interactions with future employers, as well.

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