Two women and a man sitting at a table, working on a laptop.
What is your typing speed, and are you comfortable typing quickly while still ensuring accuracy?

Great typing skills are essential for receptionist roles, so knowing that an interviewee has a typing speed above 60 words per minute is a good place to start. But you also want to know that they will check their work for mistakes, especially if it will be seen by customers or clients. They may mention that they do not sacrifice accuracy when typing quickly, or that they always go back and proofread documents. Either way, their answer should demonstrate that they balance speed and accuracy and care equally about both.

 

Tell me how you prioritize your daily tasks. What tools do you use to stay organized?

Receptionists often have to juggle multiple tasks without dropping any balls. What you want to gauge here is whether the candidate has a solid handle on how to rank tasks from “must tackle immediately” to “this can wait until later or even tomorrow.” If they say they wait for management to tell them which tasks take top priority, this may be a red flag. You need someone who understands what’s most important and can proactively act in the best interests of the company, while still taking direction when it’s given. This question also allows you to assess a candidate’s overall approach to organization. Are they able to multitask effectively? Do they keep lists? An ideal answer will demonstrate that organization comes naturally to them—and that they relish keeping their ducks in a row.

 What types of software are you familiar with?

 You want to make sure that the candidate is familiar with the types of tools you use at your office whether it’s Microsoft or Google calendaring software, Slack, etc.. Based on your expectations for their day-to-day role, do they need to have an understanding of Microsoft PowerPoint or Google docs? Making sure that their skill set aligns with your needs will make the ramp up period much easier.

Tell me about a time when you had to deal with a difficult person at the reception desk. How did you navigate the situation?

Receptionists will sometimes be required to deal with demanding, angry, or even aggressive visitors. You need to know that they can effectively diffuse a complicated situation and keep a level head. Every candidate will answer this differently, but the important thing to note is whether the candidate seems uncomfortable with the idea of interacting with an upset person. If they don’t feel confident about the ability to tackle this situation, they may struggle when it happens on the job.

Tell me about a mistake you made at work? What steps did you take to rectify it?

This question is all about problem-solving, but it also reveals whether a candidate is comfortable admitting fault. Don't get caught up in whether they admit to a small or large mistake (although a catastrophic mishap isn’t ideal). Instead, focus on their ability to acknowledge their error, analyze why it happened, and then work toward a resolution. Since they support the business in so many ways, a receptionist who’s focused on fixing problems when they arise can be a huge asset.

Tell me about a time when you’ve been asked to share private information at work. How did you handle that request?

Receptionists must be discrete. You need to know a candidate can receive private information and take the necessary steps to keep it secure. Do they demonstrate a clear understanding of who actually needs to know what? Do they understand the role they play in keeping the company’s most sensitive data safe?

Tell me about a time when you went above and beyond at your last company to add value.

A receptionist juggles many different tasks at once, but the best of the best still strive to bring added value through their role. They may have implemented an improvement to the filing system that is still used at the company to this day. Or maybe helped save the company money by cutting down on paper waste. It’s okay if their answer isn’t all about the numbers—by being a cheerful, welcoming presence in the office, they may have improved the atmosphere and helped their coworkers be more productive.

What core values do you subscribe to, both professionally and personally?

As the public face of the company, receptionists represent your core values, so it’s important that their own values are compatible with yours. Listen for words like patience, integrity, and dedication—these are just a few of the qualities shared by the best receptionists. Ideally, the candidate will also share the reason why they possess these values—and an example of how they apply them in their work. Lastly, make sure that their values align with your organizations to ensure a good fit.

What qualities do you have which you believe make you an excellent receptionist?

This question gives the candidate a chance to self-reflect, while also telling you how well they understand the needs of the role itself. Their answer should outline traits like professional, self-motivated, and highly organized, while also showing an understanding of why these qualities make for a great receptionist.

What type of work environment enables you to do your best work?

This question is useful when screening for culture fit as it allows you to gauge whether the candidate will thrive at your company. Do they work well in a fast-paced environment or do they need calm and quiet? Do they prefer to work independently or are they comfortable collaborating to support the team? There’s no wrong answer here, but take note of their preferences to see if they feel like a great fit for your company culture.