Interviewing Receptionists: Essential Questions for Hiring

If you are a small business owner or a consultant, chances are, a receptionist will be the only staff you will ever need. Getting an in-house receptionist can be a difficult task, especially when you haven’t probably hired many people yourself. Interviewing is a skill and an art, and it can only be mastered over a period of time. However, it helps to have receptionist interview questions ready, so that you don’t find yourself stumbling when your applicant arrives.

A receptionist is someone who can handle calls, greet your visitors, partake in some administrative work, schedule appointments, and errands when possible. A receptionist will also have to take notes, write emails, interact with clients and customers, and keep records of communication and enter data into computers. To hire a good receptionist, you should ensure that she is friendly, personable, professional, patient, and able to work under stressful situations. Other than these qualities, specific job-related skills may be assessed during the interview.

Here is a list of receptionist interview questions that you can customize further to suit your needs. Please remember, these questions should be looked at as a framework around which you can structure your interviews.

Experience-Related Questions

Could you tell me about your previous job?

This is the time when you build rapport and understand where the applicant worked, what her roles and responsibilities were, and other such details.

What kind of company was your previous employer?

This question helps to understand what kind of scenario or circumstance the receptionist is used to.

Could you describe your roles and responsibilities?

This question helps you to assess the applicant’s communication skills too. A good applicant will be able to form a few sentences and describe what they did, instead of just muttering a few obvious words.

How did you deal with stress and pressure?

This question helps you assess their personality. If they complain about their job too much, they will probably buckle down under stress. If they go on to describe how they made notes to remember things, drink water in between, and such other things, it tells you that they have good coping mechanisms.

What did you do if the client was late for an appointment?

They should be able to tell you how they communicated delays to everyone involved, and how they made alternate arrangements for the meeting to go successfully.

Were there any security-related duties that were assigned to you?

This is where you will be able to enquire about how they managed computer passwords, ID cards, confidential information, and similar things.

Can you give me an example of how you handled an irate customer?

This will help you understand if the applicant is fit for a customer service position.

Did you ever have to juggle roles or do many things at once?

When you ask this question, you are trying to assess the applicant’s ability to multitask.

Skills-Related Questions

What does a receptionist do?

For this question, the applicant should be able to briefly list all the important roles of a receptionist such as handling calls, fixing and following up with appointments, taking notes, entering data, etc.

Have you use multi-line phones?

This question is slightly technical, and you should probe further what kind of phone lines they have used, and if they have ever assumed the role of a telephone operator.

Which software programs have you used so far?

This question helps you to assess their computer literacy. They should be able to use basic MS Office programs, and be willing to learn CRM if they have never used it.

What personal qualities should a receptionist have?

This will help you understand what they expect from themselves, when they are at work. It is a very important question and qualities like friendliness, discipline, loyalty, professionalism, etc should be listed.

How fast can you type?

Explore if they can type quickly, and give them a typing test too, if possible. This is a very important skill.

How many languages can you read, write, listen and speak fluently?

It is always better to hire a bilingual receptionist because your customers can be from various ethnic backgrounds. Having a receptionist who can speak an additional language will not only help you please your customers, but will also aid you when you have meetings with foreign clients.

General questions

This is the time when you have already assessed the applicant’s skills and experience, and are trying to get to know them, if they will be the right candidate to be your receptionist. The purpose of this section of receptionist interview questions is to learn more about their personality and interests, so that they do not clash with your worldview.

Do you read books or magazines? If so, which ones?

This helps you to know if they keep themselves informed about latest happenings. This is important if they are dealing with clients all the time.

Have you applied anywhere else for this particular job?

This is more of a trick question. If they say yes, they are in trouble. If they say no, they are lying. However, try to judge the answer based on their situation.

Would you like to know anything about this job you are applying with us?

This question helps you to understand if they are sharp and quick in thinking. If they are smart, they wil obviously have some questions related to the job you are offering.

Why should we hire you?

This is again a clichéd question, but it helps to understand if the receptionist is able to justify herself.

Additional Questions to Ask

  • What are your strengths and weaknesses?
  • What do you enjoy about being a receptionist?
  • What are your interests and hobbies?
  • Will you be able to work after hours, with adequate payment, if such a circumstance arises?
  • Why did you leave your previous job?

After you conduct the interview, you can take the interview process a step ahead and ask the receptionist to perform a role play. Ask the applicant to take a call made by an angry customer, or ask them to fix an appointment with a client for you. There are a number of situations that you could come up with, based on what you expect from the receptionist.

If you do not want to go through this arduous task of interviewing and hiring a receptionist, who may not even be all that great at the job, hire a virtual receptionist service such as the one we provide at Abby Connect. Our bilingual receptionists are carefully hired, and surpass all metrics on which receptionists are evaluated.

Written by

Marlene & Racquel

Marlene & Racquel

Marlene started with Abby Connect 8 years ago as a receptionist and was won over by the culture and care the company has for its employees. Since then, Marlene has been a pivotal piece of growing Abby Connect – having been a long-time leader in hiring, training, developing, and managing the receptionist floor. Racquel’s journey began as one of the first Abby receptionists, the most important role at Abby, and after 11 years of performing various roles to help grow the company including directing all staff development, she’s now an Abby Way Co-Director. Together, Racquel and Marlene as certified life coaches, continue to help all Abby departments as well as their own team with hiring, training, brand reputation, development and culture.

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