How to Answer the 10 Most Common Receptionist Interview Questions

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As a receptionist, you’re often the first and last person a customer, patient, or client sees during a visit to your workplace. In other words, you’re a very special and valuable employee. In your search for a position, we’d like to offer some receptionist interview questions you might be asked. If you’d also like career coaching, mock interview practice, or resume writing and rewriting, we also offer customized career services.

1. What can you tell me about our company and what we do?

Before any job interview, do some research about the company. If you can’t respond well to this question, that interviewer will think you’re not really interested and you’re just going through the motions. Find something unique about the company and mention it if possible: “I hear you’ve started a green initiative. I’m very interested in the environment, so that’s attractive to me.”

2. This is a fast-paced office. How do you keep up with demands?

Assure the interviewer that you have a calm personality and can maintain your cool through almost any storm. Talk about how you prioritize tasks. Emphasize your customer service focus by saying you place customers first before routine clerical tasks.

3. What type of software and applications are you experienced with?

Microsoft Office is a typical software suite used in many businesses, so if you’re applying for a receptionist position, you will probably already have those skills. But so do millions of other people. For this interview question, your response should go beyond merely stating that you have those skills: “My Office skills are very strong. I wanted to use the Publisher application more often, so in 2010 I asked if I could start a company newsletter, which I’ve been doing ever since. I’m able to combine my writing and design skills for something the employees look forward to every month.”

4. What kind of customer service experience do you have?

Good companies put customers first, so think seriously about this receptionist interview question and have a good response ready. An example of a good response might be, “My customer service experience goes back to college when I worked in the book store. It seems like every semester I was entrusted with more duties. I’ve been in customer service positions ever since. I’ve always enjoyed interacting with people—and luckily, I haven’t had to deal with too many difficult people.”

5. Speaking of difficult people, how do you handle those situations?

This interview question is your opportunity to do a couple of things: show how good you are at solving problems diplomatically and how good you are at handling stress. An appropriate response might be: “In my current position we had a financial officer who would just drop scribbled notes on my desk and tell me to transcribe them. He was often very rude about it. One day, I asked if there was anything else I could do to help because he seemed overworked. He was very appreciative, and we worked out a short list of things I could help him with. We got along great after that.”

6. What types of organizational tools have you used?

In other words, how organized are you? Talk about how you start your working day and how you plan to tackle the day’s activities, tasks, meetings, and appointments, and still leave time for things that arise at a moment’s notice. If you use a particular planner, mention it, but focus on how well you utilize it. Make sure you can talk competently about priority methods and calendar programs, and how you stay focused on several tasks at one time.

7. How well do you stay focused during really busy times?

This interview question is essential for receptionists because they must be efficient multitaskers. While many of us would rather focus on one task at a time, a receptionist must be on top of several activities at a given moment. Talk about how the company’s clients get top priority. You could mention how you’ve almost mastered the art of doing two things at once: “With a headset I have no problem at all answering the phone while setting something up on the copier.” If it applies, don’t be afraid to say you might ask a fellow employee to assist during those really hectic times. It shows you’re diligent about getting things done without delays or mistakes.

8. Can you tell me about a time when you exceeded expectations?

For this receptionist interview question, you could be humble and say, “I don’t really think about the times when I stayed late or came in early or took work home as exceeding expectations. It’s just getting things done to keep the office running smoothly.” Yet, there could be an instance when you performed above and beyond the call of duty to help make sure a particular company project got done on time and on budget.

9. What do you consider the most essential qualities for this position?

Think back to research you’ve done on the company, and what you’ve read in the job description. There are some basic qualities, such as a positive, calm, and friendly attitude, along with a variety of clerical skills and experience with office equipment and computer applications. But also frame your response to suit the company or organization. For example, if you are working for a counseling service, talk about the importance of being non-judgmental and having a sense of caring for other people’s needs.

10. What do you think sets you apart from other candidates for this position?

You don’t have to provide a litany of attributes that you think will dazzle the interviewer. Have a couple of personal attributes ready to talk about or elaborate on, and show genuine enthusiasm.

We hope this list of receptionist interview questions helps in your job search. For your next step, why not practice these questions in a mock interview? Check out our job success package, and get resume writing, mock interviews, constructive feedback, and more.

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