First job interviews can be nerve-wracking. We hope you find the following tips helpful when preparing for a Receptionist interview.

Useful Receptionist Interview Tips

Many companies employ first job candidates for a Reception or Trainee Reception post, because the first and greatest requirement is common sense. Given that you have that, plus the ability to learn, it’s the ideal place to learn about the organisation from the ground up. One other essential: a VERY clear voice that is a pleasure to listen to.

You have been offered an Receptionist interview because you have already proved in your application that you understand what this job in particular involves. You also believe in your ability to “add value” to the tasks you will perform. Your individual personality will be making the crucial difference.

Why? Basically because receptionists are employed in such a wide variety of institutions. Some are geared to pleasing entitled people who are paying handsomely to be smiled at and obliged. Luxury salons and hotels, for example.

Others are contracted to work with customers who frankly would rather be at home. (For example, in the Probation Service.) Then the Receptionist may need to enforce unwelcome rules and regulations, pleasantly but firmly. That would also apply to a doctor’s surgery / office. Either way the receptionist will need strong people skills, and be able to stay calm when systems crash and behaviour gets challenging.

Before your Receptionist interview

receptionist interview

Before your Receptionist interview, make a list of all the relevant experience you have gained at school, college or elsewhere. That could be:

  • Showing visitors around
  • Fielding the telephone for absent staff – or even parents
  • Helping with admin tasks
  • Serving customers in a Saturday job
  • Looking after keys
  • Cash handling

Nearly all interviews now are somewhat competency based.  So choose three and write a competency paragraph for each one about an episode that demonstrates how well you coped in a tricky or challenging situation. Explain what exactly you did that made it work. Imagine being asked a question about the situation, and practice “talking your story”.

Go over the popular interview questions you may be asked.  Practice your interview technique with a qualified interview coach or professional.

At your Receptionist interview

At your Receptionist interview make sure you look well presented and professional. For women, make up is advisable, but not the glittery sort. Men should be almost uber-smart in a quiet way. Your hands will be on show, so manicure carefully!

If you have ICT skills or Business Admin and First Aid Certificates, be sure to mention them in your interview. Reception can be the job that asks the most of multitasking. There are quiet times on the front desk when bosses expect admin tasks to be sorted out. The more you can offer, the better your chances of success.

Emphasise that you enjoy meeting peoples’ needs. Some receptionists expect the whole operation to revolve around their convenience. Unless these individuals are feared by all (and this is rare) that attitude just isn’t going to work.

Another negative is the hope of “empire building”. Try not to imply that you get a power thrill from having the stationery cupboard key, or knowing exactly who is in a meeting for what … and keeping a special system for data entry. Stress that you see the receptionist as someone who makes office life better for everyone and thus increases productivity.