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20 Receptionist Interview Questions and Answers

Updated on Apr 19, 2023 4959 views
20 Receptionist Interview Questions and Answers

If you have a receptionist interview coming up any time soon, there are some questions you must know how to answer to ace the interview. Answering these questions accurately will distinguish you during the interview and keep you as the best-suited candidate for the role. 

This is what this article is for. To prepare you for that interview. In this article, you’d learn:

  • Who a receptionist is.

  • The responsibilities of a receptionist.

  • The skills a receptionist requires.

  • The top 20 questions you may be asked during your interview and the best answers for them. 

 

Who is a receptionist?

A receptionist is basically the front desk officer of any organisation. He is the image of the organization to the customers as he is the first person a customer sees when he walks into any office complex. They greet visitors, answer phone calls, and run errands while maintaining professional composure throughout interactions with customers or potential clients. This means that whatever assumption a customer makes of an organization will be based on his interaction with the receptionist. This is why organizations essentially take time to ensure they hire skilled people to handle the role of a receptionist. 

The responsibilities a receptionist would cover in an organization would include: 

  • Greet and welcome guests as soon as they arrive at the office and direct them to the right office if need be. 

  • Answer, screen and forward incoming phone calls.

  • Ensure the reception area is tidy and presentable, with all necessary stationery and material (e.g. pens, forms and brochures).

  • Provide basic and accurate information in person and via phone/email

  • Receive, sort and distribute daily mail/deliveries

  • Maintain office security by following safety procedures and controlling access via the reception desk (monitor logbook, issue visitor badges).

  • Order front office supplies and keep an inventory of stock

  • Update calendars and schedule meetings

  • Arrange travel and accommodations, and prepare vouchers

  • Keep updated records of office expenses and costs

  • Perform other clerical receptionist duties such as filing, photocopying, transcribing and faxing.

 

To be able to cover these responsibilities and fill any receptionist job vacancy, here are some of the skills a receptionist should have

  • Proven work experience as a receptionist, front office representative or similar role

  • Proficiency in Microsoft Office Suite

  • Hands-on experience with office equipment (e.g. fax machines and printers)

  • Solid written and verbal communication skills

  • Ability to be resourceful and proactive when issues arise

  • Excellent organizational skills

  • Multitasking and time-management skills, with the ability to prioritize tasks

  • Customer service attitude

  • High school degree; additional certification in Office Management is a plus

 

Top 20 Receptionist Interview Questions and Answers

Apart from the general questions you could be asked during an interview, here’s a list of the top 20 questions you’d be asked during a receptionist interview and the best answers to give for these questions. 

  1. What are the roles and responsibilities of a receptionist?

  2. How do you keep up in a fast-paced work environment?

  3. What makes a good receptionist?

  4. What are the most important skills for a receptionist?

  5. How does a receptionist influence the office culture?

  6. How would you respond to a caller who wants to speak to someone who is unavailable? 

  7. How do you prioritize tasks as you manage office workflows?

  8. What type of office software do you have experience using?

  9. How strong are your computer skills?

  10. How would you respond to a client if you don’t know the answer to a question?

  11. What is your experience with multi-phone lines?

  12. Tell me about a situation where you had to handle a difficult customer.

  13. What would you do if a customer does not accept your solution to a problem?

  14. How do you manage confidential information?

  15. How do you keep yourself organized?

  16. What are your strengths as a receptionist?

  17. What are your weaknesses as a receptionist?

  18. What do you like or dislike about being a receptionist?

  19. Are you willing to work overtime?

  20. Define your ideal working environment.

 

What are the roles and responsibilities of a receptionist?

When an interviewer asks you this question, he simply wants to know your level of understanding of what the role would entail. This question lets you show the interviewer that you do know your onions and he has nothing to worry about when it comes to your competency. When answering this question, keep your answer professional but also point to your personal experiences as a receptionist. 

Here’s how you can answer this

“In my experience, I’ve seen that the roles and responsibilities of a receptionist revolve around the ability to manage customers and also maintain a smooth running of administrative duties. So, the duties would include handling and redirecting calls, greeting and meeting visitors, noting down messages, assisting in planning conferences or any other responsibilities my supervisors would require of me.” 

How do you keep up in a fast-paced work environment?

In most cases, receptionists are under a lot of pressure but are also expected to multitask efficiently. With this question, your employer wants to find out how you can cope. To answer, emphasize the fact that you always remain calm because you know that getting stressed only hinders performance and makes the firm look bad in front of clients and customers.

This is an answer you can give

“To keep up in a fast-paced environment especially when I am new to it, I always try to keep calm because I know that getting stressed will only hinder my performance which may make the firm look bad in front of clients and customers. Next, I ensure to prioritize my tasks while also keeping tabs on tasks that need to be completed. As a result, I do not neglect important duties but also ensure that lesser tasks are still given maximum attention.” 

What makes a good receptionist?

Being a receptionist means working at the front desk of an office and maintaining a smooth running of the office. With this question, the recruiter wants to know how you intend to achieve that. Whale answering this question, be sure to highlight both the soft and hard skills that will make a good receptionist. 

“A good receptionist is one that has strong organizational skills, making them very resourceful to clients, coworkers and the business in general. Also, a good receptionist should have a friendly and positive attitude to create a welcoming culture in the organization. Finally, I believe a good receptionist is one who understands the power of first impressions at all times.”

What are the most important skills for a receptionist?

This question is usually asked to shd lit on your knowledge about your priorities as a receptionist. The recruiter wants to be sure that you are aware of the skills that matter the most as a receptionist and that you also possess those skills. Answering this question will help you to talk about why you are a good fit for the job. This is how you can answer this,

“Apart from having administrative skills, I’ve come to understand in my years of experience that being empathic and friendly is one of the most important skills a receptionist can possess. I’ve come to this conclusion because I know that a receptionist is the first person the customer meets when he walks into the building and I must be able to show a friendly demeanour to the client. Also, you would meet difficult customers but being friendly will always sway them to your side.” 

How does a receptionist influence the office culture?

The role of a receptionist is a very important one as it affects the culture of the organization and how customers perceive the organization. The employer wants to know if you understand the importance of your responsibility as a receptionist and the effect it can have on the corporate image of the organization. Here’s a good answer you could give, 

“As a receptionist, I'm the first person people meet when they enter an office. I must understand and represent the company's values and culture in every interaction. Maintaining a positive attitude is key to welcoming the members of my team when they arrive in the morning. It creates a positive environment and inclusive company culture.” 

How would you respond to a caller who wants to speak to someone who is unavailable?

It’s simple. This question is asked to test your ability to manage people. Recruiters simply want to know if you are confident on the phone and if you are organized enough to know how to answer and reschedule calls. Because this would probably happen a lot of times in the course of your job, it’s important for the recruiter to be sure you can handle this situation when it arises. This answer would suffice in a question like this, 

“If a customer called to speak to someone who is not available, I would first provide them with alternative options. I would either take their details and let the person know when he’s back so he could call the customer back. Or, I would advise a time that the person would be available so they could call back. Once this is done, I would then inform the person later and ensure to schedule the call.”

How do you prioritize tasks as you manage office workflows?

What this question actually means is “Can you multitask and how do you do it?” recruiters want to be sure that you can multitask and manage your time properly. To answer this question accurately, it’s always better to use instances from your past experiences to explain how you can manage your time and multitask. This is how to ace this question,

“Being a receptionist comes with a need to multitask. There could be a lot of things calling for my attention at the same time. However, I always prioritize the needs of the customers at every time and I’m always certain to give them my full attention. I also try to ensure that I prioritize other administrative duties within the organization.” 

What type of office software do you have experience using?

As a receptionist, it is expected that you are familiar with certain software with the first being Microsoft Office Suite for a start. The recruiter wants to use this question to know if you are familiar with the common industry software. He also wants to find out the software you have experience using and if you are willing to use new or unfamiliar software. When answering this, it’s a good step to mention all the software you’re proficient with including any specialized software for accounting, communications, and calendar management. Here is a good answer, 

“My experience as a receptionist has made me proficient with the Microsoft Office suite. I can also use Google applications like Google Docs and Sheets, calendaring software and several instant message platforms like Slack. However, I am open to learning other software that the company may be using currently.”

How strong are your computer skills?

With this question, the interviewer wants to be sure that your computer skills match the expectations of the company. If it’s possible, you can research this information about the company before the interview. This is because you will be typing a lot plus other administrative duties. 

This is how you can answer this,

“I have very strong computer skills. In addition to being a fast typist due to the lessons I took in high school, I am also familiar with website updates. I’m proficient with using WordPress very well but also ask questions when I need a computer skill I do not possess.”

How would you answer a client if you don’t know the answer to a question?

Your recruiter knows that you may not have all the answers to the question of the customers, especially at the beginning. The reason this question is asked is to find out how you are able to respond calmly to clients and if you know how to ask for help when you need it. Answering this question would also show how you are able to manage customers over the phone or when they step into the office building. This is how you can answer,

“When I don't have the answer to a client's question, I'll ask that they wait as I seek an answer from someone on my team. If I expect the response to take some time, I offer to call them instead of asking them to wait. Depending on the complexity of the response, I relay the message myself or ask my colleague to speak with the client directly to provide a detailed answer."

What is your experience with multi-line phones?

This is always a straightforward question. If you have an experience with it, you can simply state it with an example. However, if you do not have an answer to it, you can also simply say so while demonstrating your willingness to learn and adapt to this skill if you get the job. A good answer will be 

“Yes, I have experience using a phone system with four separate lines at my previous job. I'm very organized and can keep a running priority list of which call is next in the queue." 

Or 

"I haven’t had the opportunity to operate multiple phone lines, but I am confident I would catch on pretty quickly. I’m very willing to take training in advance of my start date if I am selected for the position."

Tell me about a situation where you had to handle a difficult customer.

Dealing with difficult customers often comes with being a receptionist. They could be angry, upset, impatient or just difficult. Your recruiter wants to be certain that you know how to handle such a client without causing damage to the company and its image. While answering this question, it is important you highlight the effect of how you handled the situation. An example of a perfect answer would be 

“In my part-time job in Bloemfontein, I had a customer who was disappointed in the colour options and became very loud and aggressive. I maintained a calm voice so as not to escalate the conflict, and I politely explained that we would notify him as soon as the new inventory arrived. He calmed down and left satisfied.”

What do you do if a customer does not accept your solution to a problem?

Questions like this form part of situational interview questions. These questions are asked to get real-time solutions if those cases arise. With this question, your best bet could be referring to a scenario where you once handled the situation in the past. Drawing an inference from this lets the recruiter know that you can manage the situation no matter when it shows up. To answer, you could use this example,

“If a customer does not accept my solution to a problem, I would try to present alternatives and options to handle the situation in a calm and friendly manner. For example, I once had to deal with such a situation sometime back. A customer received a wrong delivery and came back to the office to complain about it. I proffered the solution of getting her the correct product so she could leave with it but she refused. I then asked her if she would prefer we deliver it to her and then she accepted. It’s always about the alternative, I’ve come to discover.” 

How do you manage confidential information?

As a receptionist, you’d most likely have access to a variety of confidential information both of the client and the organization. The recruiter wants to be sure that information like this would be safe with you. You must convince them with your answer that you understand how sensitive it is and you can maintain full privacy with these details. Here’s a good answer, 

“I'm always sensitive when dealing with private information. For example, I never share information without authorization. I'm always aware of my environment, especially when making sensitive calls. Also, I take cybersecurity measures seriously by securing my devices with strong passwords and two-step verification.” 

How do you keep yourself organized?

An organized person makes for an organized receptionist. Handling information and paperwork required a certain level of personal organization. The recruiter wants to know that you won’t mix up documents, info or clients. To answer this question, use instances as much as you can and show how being organized has been helpful to you. This is a good answer, 

“I am naturally a very organized person. I have certain systems like my calendar for making sure I’m always on time for commitments, and lists to make sure that I get everything done each day. I love keeping documents separate so that files are always handy and never get mixed up.” 

What are your strengths as a receptionist?

Talking about your strengths is your opportunity to talk about why you are the best fit for the role. When talking about your strengths, focus on those qualities you are certain you exhibit easily and how they are helpful to your job. So, don’t just talk about what you are good at, talk about what you are good at that is necessary for the job role of a receptionist. 

Here’s a good answer,

“One of my major strengths is my ability to prioritize things. I’m always good at spotting what is very important and paying attention to it. I always have a scale of preference in my mind handy, and this helps me to multi-task and pay attention to what is necessary per time. It also helps me cut down on distractions.”

What are your weaknesses as a receptionist?

Everyone has a weakness, including you. And your recruiter knows this. When answering this question, be as honest as possible but don’t share more than is necessary. Also, be careful to always include in your answer that you are working on improving at whatever weakness you have. For example, 

“I have a weakness of spending too much time than is necessary on things. I always tend to spend so much time carrying out a task because I want it to be perfect. To work on this, I have learned to set a reasonable deadline for all my tasks. That way, I keep myself in check.” 

What do you like or dislike about being a receptionist?

This is one of the questions the recruiter would ask you to get an honest answer from you. While answering this question, focus more on the things you like about being a receptionist. And when talking about your dislikes, don’t emphasize so much about dislikes that relate to the present job opportunity. Avoid working conditions or criticizing your colleagues or supervisors. Here’s an example,

“One of the things I like about being a receptionist is the ability to meet new people and help them with any issues they may have. It makes me feel like I’m doing something important and contributing greatly. I also like that I get to meet and interact with different people on a daily basis. However, I really don’t like being micromanaged. I love taking initiative and I’m always glad when I am given an opportunity to do that.” 

Are you willing to work overtime?

This is a tricky question, but it is important that you are honest about your response. Say yes if you are willing to work overtime and also say no if you are not willing to. If there are concerns that you have, also be willing to say so and mention them. In some companies, saying that you won’t work overtime may cost you the job, but making a commitment you cannot keep is worse. You need a job that matches your availability. Here is a good answer,

“I’m comfortable working overtime a few times a month if I have a heads-up about it. It helps me plan and rearrange myself and other activities I may have lined up.” 

Define your ideal working environment.

The recruiter asks this question to be sure that your expectations match the culture and system of the organization. Be honest to talk about what makes you productive as a receptionist but also try to connect it to the already existing culture in the organization. This is why it is important to research the company before the interview. Here’s a good answer,

“I particularly like a fast-paced working environment. It has a way of keeping me accountable and on my toes. I also like an environment that gives room for creativity and taking initiative. I’ve realized that in such environments, there are no limits to the volume of work I can get done because I am constantly inspired by the room for creativity.”

 

These are some of the questions you’d be asked during your receptionist interview. There are also questions you can ask the recruiter during an interview to help you understand what will be expected from you in your new position. But remember that companies are always looking for the best candidate they can find. So, before your interview, take time to practice these questions over again. Do not cram them, but practise and tailor your answers. 

All the best in your next interview!

Staff Writer

This article was written and edited by a staff writer.

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