Though essential to a well-running office, the receptionist position’s importance often gets overlooked. However, a quality, well-trained receptionist is key: he or she shapes a business’s image, creates efficiency, and serves as the public face of the staff. Hiring this position requires more than just a glance at a resume or finding someone to fill a front desk. Instead, focusing on an interviewee’s personality, critical thinking skills, and experience can help determine which candidate can bring the most value to the office.
“Can you describe a time in which you went above and beyond?”
A receptionist often must perform multiple jobs: act as a secretary, handle a rush of phone calls for salesmen, or be in charge of coordinating small events. For someone to be successful at this role, it is imperative that they be a team player. If the person cannot successfully identify a time in which he or she went above the line of duty, then the candidate most likely does not have the drive to do more than just the minimum of what is required.
“Please name one success and one failure. How did you handle both situations?”
Finding the candidate with the an attitude that is both positive and humble can be tricky, especially in an interview setting. However, asking a prospective receptionist about his or her past work experiences, especially when a situation did not go completely as planned, can be an enlightening, reflective practice. When listening to the answer, be sure to note if the person’s “success” was done to the benefit of others or the entire office, as well as if his or her “failure” has been properly processed. If the prospect fails to provide a real failure or has no explanation as to why or how he or she failed, it may indicate a reluctance or resistance to being given constructive feedback later on.
“What would you do in this situation…”
Interviewers are often afraid to get too specific with their questions, instead asking “softball” questions that are too general to receive anything but canned, rehearsed responses. Instead, test a candidate’s critical thinking and on-the-spot problem solving abilities by posing situations unique to the office in which he or she would be working. For example, if the receptionist frequently has to move work spaces throughout the day, ask about organization ideas. If the receptionist only answers and directs phone calls for one department, ask how he or she would bond with other departments. While the answer may not be perfect, it may shed light onto how the candidate processes a change in workplace environments or and handles mounting stress.
Finding a future receptionist begins by asking targeted interview questions that pose specific situations, test and gauge the personality, and determine experience. A successful candidate should be able to blend their positive energy with a humble disposition along with a thorough critical thinking process—all of which can bring great value to the receptionist position.