Receptionist Interview Questions and Answers

Businessman giving receptionist his credit card
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At many organizations,  are the face of the company. Every new client, job applicants, employee, or third-party vendor will pass by or check in with a receptionist, so employers are eager to find someone who will be responsible, friendly, and calm. 

Receptionist Skills to Focus on During an Interview

Receptionists must have strong  and  skills, including soft skills like customer service, multitasking, and the ability to make quick judgment calls.

Because of the ever-increasing technological advancements in the workplace, receptionists also must certain technical skills. You should have experience using phone systems and office machines like printers, copiers, scanners, and fax machines (yes, still), in addition to computer applications like MS Office and industry-specific software. 

Receptionist Interview Questions

Review a list of frequently asked questions for receptionists, with examples of the best answers.

1. What do you know about this company and our services?

Being familiar with your prospective employer shows respect and interest on your part. Do your homework before the interview.

2. What motivates you to do reception and administrative work?

This is likely a cultural or character-focused question. Make your answer tactful, but honest.

3. What do you do to keep up in a fast-paced work environment?

Your interviewer wants to be sure that you can keep up. How you do it is likely irrelevant, but you should have a clear and confident answer ready.

Sample Answer: The number one thing I do is keep calm, since a frantic, stressed attitude isn't helpful and also isn't a good look in front of any staff or clients. I try to triage tasks, so that I'm always working on the most important task first. Usually, that's anything that involves one of the company's clients. As well, I keep a running list of everything I need to do, so that I don't neglect any important responsibilities. 

4. How do you keep your daily schedule organized?

Likewise, how you organize your day is not really the point, the point is to demonstrate that you are well-organized and will complete all your duties in a competent and timely manner.

Sample Answer: I begin every day by making a list of everything I need to accomplish. I check my calendar for any meetings or appointments, so I can be aware of them, and get coverage on the front desk if necessary. In my job, communication is key, so I'm constantly answering the phone and checking my email for new requests, then updating my to do list with follow-up tasks accordingly. 

5. What messaging system and calendar programs do you use?

Your interviewer may want to know whether you are familiar with your prospective employer’s system, but the point of the question may also be to assess your knowledge of your field. If you are familiar with several different programs and can intelligently explain your preferences, you will demonstrate a broad expertise and a strong understanding of your field. You may also be asked about other technical aspects of receptionist work, or your computer literacy in general.

6. What role does a receptionist play in a customer’s first impression of an organization?

Your interviewer needs to be sure that you understand the position you are applying for, but this question may also be cultural, touching on your philosophy of work.

Sample Answer: A receptionist can make a big impression - positive or negative - on customers. Since I'm one of the first people customers see, a frustrating or poor interaction can really sour their opinion on the company or overall experience they had. To me, it's similar to when the host greets you at a restaurant. If they seem frantic or act rudely, then it can feel later like your food just doesn't taste as delicious. That's why I always make sure to greet people with a smile on my face and make sure all customers feel like they've got my full attention.

 

7. How did you add value to your last company?

Go ahead and talk about intangible benefits - if everyone said you brightened the whole office atmosphere, say so. But if at all possible, come equipped with numbers as well. Did you save your employer money? Increase sales? If so, how much money was involved?

8. Tell me about a time you had to deal with an angry customer or guest, either on the phone or in person. How did you handle the situation?

This is one of several questions you may be asked involving how you handle stressful and difficult conditions. You could also be asked how you responded to criminal or unethical activity. Be honest. Don’t exaggerate and also don't sell yourself short.

Sample Answer: As a doctor's office receptionist, I often dealt with frustrated patients on the phone. One time, a woman was so furious the billing department hadn't called her back the same day, that she started screaming at me on the phone. It was unpleasant! What I try to do in these situations is think about how stressed the person must feel to behave this way. After a minute of her yelling, I said, "You must be really frustrated. Can you tell me more about what's going on?" That helped slow down the conversation and reduce her volume.

She explained the whole situation, and I reassured her that our billing person was just out for the day and would be in touch. I also told her I'd place a note on the billing person's desk, asking her to call the woman back as her first task. By the end of the call, she was much calmer, and apologized for her earlier harsh words. 

9. Are you willing to work overtime?

If you are not willing to work overtime, say so. If you are willing to work overtime but only within certain limits, say that as well. Yes, there are companies where not working overtime will cost you the job, but making a commitment you cannot keep or sacrificing your welfare or that of your family for your job is not an acceptable option. You need a job that matches your availability.

Sample Answer: I'm comfortable working overtime a few times a month, so long as I have a day's notice beforehand. Having a heads-up makes it easier for me to rearrange my plans. In a pinch, I can very likely do same-day overtime, too, but I'd really prefer to have a day's notice.  

10. Have you worked as a receptionist before?

11. How many employees worked in your last office?

Sample answer: In my last office, there were five employees. That's small enough that we started to feel a bit like a family. You know, everyone knew Martha in the billing department needed two cups of coffee before you could ask complicated questions. Before that, though, my office was fairly large - 60 employees. I felt comfortable in both environments, although the first month in the large office was a bit challenging since I had to figure out who did what, and where to direct calls with a lot of options available.

 

12. How many people on average did you interact with on a daily basis at your last job?

13. Describe your previous duties as an administrative assistant, secretary, or receptionist.

Sample Answer: As the receptionist at ABC Financials, I was the first person for customers. I answered the general phone line, as well as answering the phones for the company's five VPs. As well, I was in charge of receiving packages and distributing mail, greeting and escorting customers and vendors to meeting rooms, and keeping up with the company's general information email address. I also had a lot of administrative responsibilities: I managed the calendars of those VPs, arranged their business travel, and helped create and refine PowerPoint presentations and other materials to distribute at events.

 

14. Have you needed to handle sensitive or confidential tasks in the past? Were you comfortable handling these tasks?

15. How do you prioritize calls, clients, deliveries, and other issues that must be addressed immediately?

Sample Answer: Multitasking is essential when the office is busy. Whenever it's not rude, I try to perform a few tasks at the same time. For instance, I can easily answer a phone call while signing for a package from the delivery person. When multitasking isn't possible, I put my focus on clients and customers as the number one priority. If necessary, I'll ask if they can give me a minute to do another task first - and, if things are really busy, I try to call in a fellow employee to provide me with coverage.

 

16. How do you keep your daily schedule organized?

17. Tell me about a time that you had to multitask at work.

18. How strong are your computer skills?

Sample Answer: I have very strong computer skills. As well as being familiar with Microsoft Office, I also used to make updates to the company website in my last role, so I'm comfortable using Wordpress as well. When I start using a new program or application, I usually find that most of my questions can be answered with an online search, although I do appreciate getting a tutorial from a co-worker, too. 

19. What contributions did you make by way of increased revenues, reduced costs, and saved time?

20. What is your typing speed, and what is your average error level?

21. Tell me about your customer service experience.

Sample Answer: I've been working in customer service since I was a teenager. My first job was working at a bookstore, where I helped customers find books and sometimes covered the cash register. During college, I had a part-time retail job as well, this time, selling clothing. Then, of course, as a receptionist at ABC Company, I also dealt with customers, although in this role, I was not directly making any sales. I feel really comfortable interacting with customers and solving their problems, whether it's finding the book they're looking for or changing their meeting time with an executive.

 

22. What type of security protocol did you follow at your last job?

23. What was the procedure for accepting deliveries? Personal packages?

24. Tell me about a time where you were pressured to share confidential or private information.

25. Tell me about a time that you went above and beyond at a previous job.

How to Make the Best Impression

A receptionist position may be considered entry-level, but it can also be the first step up the corporate ladder. A prospective employer will be drawn to a confident, self-assured person. Often you will be the first person their clients or patients will meet when walking into the office for the first time.

Be sure your first impression is the best it can be. Here’s . Along with a standout resume, take the time to dress the part when you interview. If you get the job, you’re going to be the frontline person and it’s important to show the employer your professional image.

If you aren’t sure about what to wear to your interview, check out these tips on . If both your resume and your professional attire are on point, and you are prepared to answer likely questions, you will be successful in obtaining the position you are interviewing for.