Receptionist Interview Questions (15 Questions + Answers)

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Practical Psychology

Are you preparing for a receptionist job interview? During your interview, the interviewer is likely to ask you a series of questions that test your aptitude for clerical work.

To help you ace your interview, I’ve compiled the most common receptionist interview questions and answers. Learn from these before your interview and you’ll do just fine.

1) How would your previous employer describe you?

Receptionist interview questions

When answering how your previous employer would describe you in a receptionist job interview, focus on qualities and achievements that are relevant to the role.

Sample answer:

"My previous employer would describe me as a highly dependable and efficient receptionist. They appreciated my punctuality, consistent performance, and attention to detail in managing administrative tasks. They would highlight my strong communication skills and friendly demeanor, which helped in creating a welcoming atmosphere for visitors and an amicable environment for colleagues. I was often commended for my ability to handle multiple tasks efficiently under pressure, which included managing a busy switchboard while ensuring that all visitors were attended to promptly. My employer valued my proactive approach in identifying and resolving potential issues before they escalated, contributing positively to the smooth operation of the front office."

The answer provides specific traits and examples, making it more credible and relevant to the receptionist role. It also portrays a positive and professional image, suggesting that you are a capable and pleasant employee.

2) Why are you interested in this role?

Focus on aspects of the job that genuinely appeal to you and align with your skills and career aspirations. If applicable, mention something specific about the company that attracts you to the position, like its culture, reputation, or values.

Sample answer:

"I am interested in this receptionist role because it aligns perfectly with my strengths and career aspirations. I thrive in roles that require excellent communication and organizational skills, which are essential for a successful receptionist. I enjoy the dynamics of interacting with different people daily, and I find great satisfaction in creating a welcoming and efficient front office environment. The opportunity to work for a company with such a strong community focus and commitment to customer service, as yours, is particularly appealing. I see this role as a platform to further develop my professional skills while contributing positively to the team and the company's overall mission."

This approach communicates your enthusiasm for the receptionist position and your understanding of how your skills and career goals align with the role, making you a compelling candidate.

3) What are the characteristics of a quality receptionist?

Highlight the importance of being professional. Stress the importance of attention to detail in tasks like managing appointments, entering data, and ensuring accurate message delivery.

Sample answer:

"A quality receptionist should exhibit professionalism, setting the tone for the entire office. This includes maintaining a professional demeanor and appearance, as well as respecting confidentiality. Strong communication skills are essential for effectively interacting with visitors and colleagues, and handling telephone and email inquiries. Organizational abilities are also crucial for managing appointments, correspondence, and maintaining an orderly reception area. Attention to detail is key in ensuring information is accurate and tasks are completed efficiently. Problem-solving skills enable a receptionist to handle unexpected situations effectively. Lastly, a friendly and approachable demeanor is important in creating a welcoming atmosphere for everyone who enters the office."

This approach effectively communicates your understanding of what makes a quality receptionist, showcasing your awareness of the role's requirements and your suitability for it.

4) Provide a summary of your customer service experience and how you approach this task

Describe your past roles where you provided customer service and discuss specific skills and techniques you have developed, such as active listening, empathy, problem-solving, and effective communication.

Sample answer:

"In my previous roles as a receptionist and customer service representative, I've gained extensive experience in front-line customer interaction. I've worked in both hospitality and retail environments, which taught me the importance of adapting to different customer needs. My approach to customer service is centered around active listening and empathy. I believe in understanding the customer's perspective first, which enables me to address their concerns effectively. I am skilled in clear communication and conflict resolution, which has been essential in turning challenging interactions into positive experiences. My goal in any customer service scenario is to ensure the customer feels heard, valued, and satisfied with the solution provided."

The response directly outlines relevant experience in customer service roles. It also emphasizes your thoughtful, customer-oriented approach to handling interactions, showcasing your suitability for a receptionist role.

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

Mention that the receptionist is often the first person a customer interacts with, making their role crucial in setting the tone for the customer’s experience.

Sample answer:

"As the first point of contact, a receptionist plays a pivotal role in shaping a customer's first impression of an organization. In this role, it's crucial to exhibit professionalism and a welcoming demeanor, as these qualities directly reflect the company’s values and approach to customer service. My role involves greeting customers with a friendly and helpful attitude, efficiently addressing their inquiries, and ensuring they feel valued from the moment they enter the office. The way I present myself, handle queries, and manage the reception area all contribute to creating a positive and lasting impression, setting the tone for the customer's entire experience with the organization."

This approach effectively communicates the critical role of a receptionist in shaping customers' first impressions and their contribution to the overall customer experience.

6) How would you work toward creating a good first impression for clients?

When answering this question, focus on specific actions and behaviors that contribute to a positive and professional initial interaction.

Sample answer:

"To create a good first impression for clients, I believe in the importance of a professional appearance and a welcoming demeanor. My approach includes greeting clients with a warm and friendly smile, making eye contact, and using their name if possible, as it adds a personal touch. Being efficient and organized in handling their inquiries or directing them to the right person or department is also crucial, as it demonstrates the company’s competence and respect for their time. I ensure I actively listen to their needs, providing prompt and accurate assistance. Maintaining a clean and pleasant reception area is essential, as it reflects the company's attention to detail and commitment to a positive client experience."

The answer aligns well with the expectations of a receptionist's role in creating a positive first impression. Mentioning the use of clients' names and active listening demonstrates an understanding of the importance of personalizing interactions.

7) Most of your day you will be required to multi-task. How accustomed are you to multitasking?

Start by affirming your capability and comfort level with multitasking. Provide examples from your previous roles where you successfully managed multiple tasks simultaneously.

Describe how you prioritize tasks, manage time, and stay organized to handle multitasking effectively. Highlight your ability to stay calm and composed under pressure.

Sample answer:

"I am quite accustomed to multitasking, as it was an integral part of my previous roles as a receptionist and administrative assistant. For instance, I regularly managed incoming calls while greeting visitors and handling administrative tasks like scheduling and data entry. My approach involves prioritizing tasks based on urgency and importance, and I use tools like digital calendars and task lists to stay organized. I’m adept at quickly switching between tasks without losing focus or efficiency. I also maintain a calm and composed demeanor, which helps me handle multiple responsibilities smoothly. This ability to effectively multitask allows me to ensure that all front desk operations run seamlessly, contributing to a positive experience for both clients and colleagues."

This approach effectively communicates your experience with and strategy for multitasking, showcasing that you are well-prepared for the demands of a receptionist role.

8) How do you keep your daily schedule organized and on track?

Briefly outline your typical daily routine, showing how you structure your day to manage various tasks. Mention any tools or software you use for scheduling and organization, such as digital calendars, scheduling software, or task management apps.

Sample answer:

"To keep my daily schedule organized and on track, I rely on a combination of digital tools and personal time management strategies. I use a digital calendar to schedule appointments and set reminders for important tasks. Each morning, I review my agenda for the day and prioritize tasks based on their urgency and importance. This not only includes scheduled appointments but also time allocated for administrative tasks, such as filing, data entry, and responding to emails. I maintain flexibility to accommodate unexpected requests or changes in the schedule. Throughout the day, I regularly update my calendar and task list to reflect completed items and any new tasks that arise. This systematic approach, coupled with effective time management, helps me stay organized and ensures that I am always prepared for the day’s responsibilities."

Describing a typical routine and the method of prioritization gives insight into your ability to manage a variety of tasks efficiently.

9) How would you deal with an angry guest?

When answering this question, focus on demonstrating your conflict resolution skills, empathy, and professionalism. Highlight the need to listen actively and attentively to understand the guest’s concerns fully.

Sample answer:

"If I encountered an angry guest, my first step would be to remain calm and maintain a professional demeanor. I believe it’s important to not take their anger personally but to focus on resolving the situation. I would listen actively to their concerns, ensuring they feel heard and understood. Expressing empathy is key, as it can often help to de-escalate the situation. I would then work towards finding a solution, whether that involves providing immediate assistance or referring the matter to a manager for further action. After the situation is resolved, I’d follow up with the guest to confirm they are satisfied with the outcome. This approach not only addresses the guest’s immediate concerns but also helps maintain a positive reputation for the company."

The answer emphasizes active listening and empathy, key to understanding and de-escalating conflicts. It highlights a proactive approach to resolving the issue, demonstrating problem-solving skills.

10) What is your definition of professionalism?

You should mention that professionalism involves maintaining a positive and respectful attitude toward colleagues, clients, and the work environment.

Sample answer:

"To me, professionalism encompasses several key aspects. Firstly, it involves maintaining a consistently positive and respectful attitude towards everyone you interact with, whether they are colleagues, clients, or management. Being reliable and responsible in your work duties is also crucial; this includes being punctual, meeting deadlines, and handling tasks efficiently. Professionalism is also reflected in one’s appearance and demeanor, which should be appropriate and align with the workplace's standards. Upholding ethical conduct, integrity, and confidentiality is vital, especially in a front-facing role like a receptionist. A professional continuously seeks to improve their skills and knowledge to better contribute to their role and the organization."

The answer is tailored to the receptionist position, highlighting attributes important in a front-facing role. It provides a well-rounded definition that covers both personal qualities and work ethics.

11) What would you do if you found you had double-booked a client?

Start by acknowledging the mistake and taking responsibility for it.

Mention the importance of promptly informing the client about the error, using clear and professional communication. Discuss offering alternatives such as rescheduling at a convenient time or suggesting another available staff member, if applicable.

Sample answer:

"If I discovered I had double-booked a client, I would first acknowledge the mistake and take immediate steps to rectify it. I would promptly contact the client to inform them of the oversight, apologizing for any inconvenience. I’d offer alternative solutions, such as rescheduling their appointment at a time that suits them or, if possible, arranging for them to be seen by another qualified staff member at the original time. I would ensure the client feels heard and understood, and do my utmost to accommodate their needs. After resolving the situation, I’d review our booking procedures to understand how the error occurred and take steps to prevent similar issues in the future. This might involve additional checks when scheduling appointments or revising our current system to better manage bookings."

The response shows a willingness to take responsibility for the error, which is important for accountability. It also communicates your ability to handle scheduling errors professionally.

12) If the phones were constantly ringing, would you feel overwhelmed?

When answering this question, focus on demonstrating your ability to manage high-volume tasks efficiently without getting overwhelmed.

Sample answer:

"Handling a constant stream of phone calls can indeed be challenging, but I am well-prepared for such situations. In my previous role as a receptionist, I frequently managed high call volumes. My approach is to stay organized and prioritize calls based on urgency. I maintain a calm and composed demeanor, which helps me efficiently handle each call while ensuring that every caller feels attended to and valued. If multiple lines are ringing simultaneously, I quickly and courteously place callers on hold, addressing each one in turn. I also take brief notes during calls to keep track of follow-ups. This method has proven effective in my past experiences, allowing me to manage busy phone lines without feeling overwhelmed."

The response recognizes that handling multiple calls is challenging, showing realism. It outlines clear strategies for managing high call volumes, demonstrating practical skills.

13) What would you do if a client walked in right as the phone was ringing?

Acknowledge that both the in-person client and the phone call are important and need to be addressed promptly. Mention that you would greet the client who just walked in, acknowledging their presence and indicating you will be with them shortly.

Explain that you would then answer the phone call promptly, assess the caller’s need, and decide whether to place them on a brief hold or quickly address their query.

Sample answer:

"In a scenario where a client walks in as the phone rings, I would first briefly greet the client, ensuring they feel acknowledged and welcome. I would then answer the phone with a polite and professional greeting. If the phone call requires immediate attention, I would ask the caller for a moment, place them on hold, and then return my focus to the in-person client to assist them efficiently. If the call is a quick query, I would address it promptly while the client is settling in. My goal is to ensure both the client in front of me and the caller feel equally valued and attended to. Balancing attention between walk-in clients and phone calls is a key part of the receptionist role, and I pride myself on my ability to stay organized and composed, ensuring a smooth and efficient experience for all."

The response shows a commitment to promptly engaging with both clients and callers. It demonstrates an understanding of the importance of acknowledging the presence of the walk-in client while also attending to the caller.

14) What would you do if a client showed up 30 minutes late for their appointment?

Start by mentioning that you would greet the client warmly and acknowledge their arrival.

Explain that you would quickly assess the situation to understand if accommodating the client is feasible without disrupting the schedule.

Sample answer:

"If a client arrived 30 minutes late for their appointment, I would first greet them warmly to ensure they feel welcome despite the situation. I would then check our schedule to assess if it's possible to accommodate them without causing significant delays for other appointments. If accommodating them is not feasible, I would inform them politely but clearly about the impact of their lateness and offer to reschedule their appointment for a more convenient time. In case there's still a chance to fit them in, I would let them know and ask for their patience while we make the necessary adjustments. Throughout the interaction, I would maintain a professional and courteous demeanor, ensuring the client feels respected and valued, despite the inconvenience caused by their late arrival."

This approach effectively communicates your ability to handle scheduling challenges with professionalism and a focus on customer service, key qualities for a receptionist role.

15) What would you do if a fellow receptionist wasn't following the company's policies?

Mention that you would first consider addressing the issue directly with the colleague in a respectful and non-confrontational manner.

Discuss the importance of escalating the matter to a supervisor or manager if the behavior continues or if it’s a serious violation, while maintaining discretion and professionalism.

Sample answer:

"If I noticed a fellow receptionist not following company policies, I would first approach the situation with tact and professionalism. My initial step would be to have a discreet and friendly conversation with them, perhaps pointing out the discrepancy in a non-confrontational way. It’s possible they might not be aware of their oversight, so I’d aim to clarify the policy and its importance for our team's efficiency and the company's standards. If the behavior continued, especially if it was a serious violation, I would consider it necessary to bring it to the attention of our supervisor. Throughout this process, I would maintain professionalism and discretion, as my goal would be to uphold our team's standards and work environment, not to create conflict."

The answer responsibly suggests escalating the matter if necessary, indicating an understanding of when managerial intervention is appropriate.

What to wear to a receptionist job interview to get hired

Consider the type of company you're interviewing with.

For instance, an architect's office might require more subdued attire, whereas a startup or coding company might be fine with jeans and a nice shirt, or even a t-shirt.

Aim to dress appropriately, but don’t appear overly formal. If you have information about your interviewer, such as their age, physical appearance, or style, try to match their level of dress.

This advice might seem odd to some, but mirroring the interviewer's style can make you more relatable and appealing to them.

For women, appropriate attire includes dresses, skirts, or slacks paired with casual blouses. It's crucial to ensure that your clothing isn't revealing.

Avoid sheer materials, overly tight clothes, and low-cut or off-the-shoulder tops. Skirts and dresses should reach or be just above the knee, steering clear of mini or maxi lengths.

Men can opt for khaki, navy, or gray slacks combined with collared golf shirts or short-sleeved, non-white shirts. Wear loafers or oxfords, or styles resembling sneakers, as long as they aren't actual athletic shoes.

Remember, as the first person someone sees when they walk in the door, it's important to present yourself in a manner that aligns with the interviewer's expectations. 

What to expect in a receptionist job interview

Most receptionist job interviews are casual and straightforward.

According to a hiring manager, you want to make sure your attire is appropriate for the position you are applying for. Leaving a good impression is important.

Look into the company, know what they do, and understand your general tasks.

Generally, interviewers want to ensure that you are professional, with a courteous phone demeanor and a welcoming attitude. Being cheery can be helpful.

It's also important to maintain professionalism when dealing with people who are angry on the phone. Basically, you'll act as a buffer before they connect with the person they're calling.

Try to think of examples from your life where you've demonstrated these skills. Providing real-life customer service experience can put you miles ahead of other candidates.

Understand the interviewer’s point of view

During a receptionist job interview, interviewers typically look for a combination of specific traits and skills that are essential for the role. Here are some key traits they are likely to focus on:

Customer Service Orientation: A strong focus on providing excellent customer service, ensuring that clients and visitors feel welcomed and assisted.

Professionalism: Demonstrating a professional demeanor in terms of appearance, attitude, and behavior. This includes being punctual, reliable, and respectful.

Communication Skills: Strong verbal and written communication skills are crucial. This includes being articulate, clear, and polite in interactions with clients, colleagues, and management.

Interpersonal Skills: Being personable and approachable, with the ability to build rapport with a diverse range of people, including clients and team members.

Be prepared to provide examples from your past experiences that demonstrate these traits. Real-world scenarios where you've applied these skills can boost your chances for the receptionist role. Good luck!

Reference this article:

Practical Psychology. (2023, December). Receptionist Interview Questions (15 Questions + Answers). Retrieved from

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