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40 receptionist interview questions to hire the best front-desk staff

40 receptionist interview questions to hire the best front-desk staff
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Receptionists are an integral part of any organization that has an offline presence. They’re the face of your business when welcoming visitors and help make sure all guests receive prompt attention and have an excellent experience. 

When hiring a receptionist, you’ll want to look for candidates who are excellent communicators, have general computer literacy, and know how to prioritize emails, phone calls, and in-person inquiries effectively.

The best way to find candidates with these skills is by using a combination of pre-employment skills testing and the right receptionist interview questions. 

Skills assessments will enable you to evaluate your applicants’ skills, while interviews will give you a chance to gain more insights into their experience, behavior, and thought process.

To help you make better hires, in this article, we’ve listed our top skills assessments for this role, picked the best 40 receptionist interview questions, and provided guidelines on how to assess applicants’ answers. 

How to evaluate receptionists’ skills

When hiring a receptionist, you’ll want to use a recruitment strategy that includes pre-employment skills tests and great interview questions. The assessments will allow you to find suitable candidates with the right skills, and the interviews will enable you to pick the right person for the role.

Here are the top skill tests you can use when hiring a receptionist: 

  • Front-desk Receptionist: Use this test to evaluate your candidates’ abilities to deliver exceptional front-desk service to all guests, visitors, and clients. 

  • Communication: Your receptionist should be able to listen carefully and communicate effectively, especially when dealing with customers. Our test will help you find candidates with excellent communication skills. 

  • Computer Literacy: Nowadays, everyone works with a computer. The person you hire should have a general knowledge of how to navigate the internet and handle files and folders with ease. 

  • Email skills for Microsoft Outlook or Gmail: Being a receptionist requires handling a lot of emails. Our tests will evaluate someone’s skills in using Microsoft Outlook or Gmail, their email etiquette, and their ability to manage virtual meetings and calls. 

  • Time Management: Time management is another skill to look for. Receptionists need to prioritize tasks, plan ahead, and schedule meetings. Our tests will evaluate these qualities for you. 

  • Attention to Detail: Receptionists need to make sure they don’t overlook any important details and complete all tasks accurately. Evaluate their attention to detail with this test. 

Use the above tests to identify the best candidates for the role and invite them to an interview to further assess their strengths and weaknesses and find the perfect fit. 

Top 16 receptionist interview questions and answers

Below, you’ll find our selection of the best interview questions for receptionists, along with our guidelines on how to assess applicants’ answers. 

These questions are applicable for all front desk roles in all industries; if you’re looking to hire hotel receptionists, check out the next section for additional question ideas.

1. How do you handle the stress and responsibility of being the first point of contact for customers and visitors?

Skilled receptionists will know what stress management techniques work best for them and discuss specific strategies they use to provide excellent service to all visitors and guests, even under pressure. 

For example, they might talk about how they assess each inquiry's urgency, gather necessary information quickly, and use clear communication to address concerns.

2. Can you give an example of how you've dealt with a difficult visitor in the past? What was the outcome?

Candidates should provide specific examples that demonstrate their patience, empathy, and problem-solving skills. 

Look for stories where they listened actively to the guest's concerns and provided a solution that adhered to company policies. The best receptionists will also reflect on what they learned from the experience.

3. How do you ensure confidentiality and discretion in your role as a receptionist?

Candidates should talk about their understanding of the importance of privacy and confidentiality in building trust with customers. 

They might mention specific behaviors, such as not discussing visitor information in public areas, securely managing personal data, and following company policies for information disclosure. 

If your company has offices in the EU, you might also want to evaluate your candidates’ knowledge of GDPR principles by using our GRPR test.

4. How do you handle stressful situations, especially with other visitors around?

Candidates should emphasize their ability to remain calm under pressure, using techniques to manage their own stress and de-escalate the situation.

They might mention how they prioritize guest satisfaction, using clear communication to address concerns and prevent the situation from affecting others. The ability to maintain a positive demeanor is essential.

5. What would you do if you received a complaint about a coworker from a customer?

Candidates should demonstrate a high level of professionalism and discretion when dealing with such situations. 

Expect them to discuss how they would listen empathetically to the customer’s concerns, reassuring them that the organization values their feedback and will address the issue appropriately. 

For minor issues, they might then simply have a chat with the coworker in question; for bigger concerns, they should follow the company’s established protocols for handling complaints. In all cases, their answer should show a commitment to resolving the issue while maintaining the confidentiality and trust of all parties involved.

6. How would you handle a situation where you are unable to fulfill a visitor’s request?

Here, the best candidates will demonstrate an understanding that providing exceptional service is possible even when they cannot meet a visitor’s request. 

For example, if a visitor is asking for a walk-in appointment when none are available, the receptionist might note down the visitor’s contact information and get in touch with them in the case of a cancellation. 

7. What strategies do you use to manage customer expectations?

Skilled candidates will talk about the importance of clear and proactive communication to set realistic expectations from the outset. They might discuss how they provide detailed information about the company’s services, pricing options, and possible limitations.

The ability to anticipate customer questions and address them before they arise demonstrates a proactive approach to service that can prevent dissatisfaction and help build trust.

8. Describe a situation where you had to say "no" to a customer. How did you manage their reaction?

Most candidates who have experience in customer-facing roles will have plenty of examples of times when they had to say “no”. 

The best ones will explain how they communicated the refusal in a respectful and empathetic manner. They might also discuss the importance of providing a clear explanation for the decision, offering alternative solutions, and ensuring the customer feels their concerns and needs are still a priority. 

9. Describe a time when you had to support other departments or staff members outside your usual duties.

Candidates should demonstrate their ability to work well with others, showing flexibility and a willingness to help coworkers and occasionally do things that are beyond their job description.

Look for instances where the candidate creatively solved problems or contributed to solutions outside their primary responsibilities. You can also use a Problem Solving test to evaluate candidates’ abilities to address issues on the spot. 

10. How would you contribute to creating a welcoming atmosphere for all visitors and staff?

Look for concrete examples of how candidates have made visitors and staff feel welcome in the past, such as through positive communication and anticipating others’ needs. 

Their answer should also demonstrate an understanding of how their role contributes to the overall company culture and atmosphere and building trust with clients, partners, and employees.

11. Can you provide an example of a time when you improved a process or procedure at the front desk?

The best receptionists will have the ability to identify process inefficiencies and propose practical solutions without a manager prompting them to do so. Look for examples that show the effectiveness of their improvements, such as time saved, reduced errors, or enhanced customer satisfaction.

12. How do you maintain your professional demeanor in a chaotic environment?

This question will help you evaluate candidates’ ability to adapt to changing situations while maintaining a high standard of work. Candidates should describe specific ways in which they deal with the pressure of a fast-paced environment, such as: 

  • Communicating effectively about timelines and managing others’ expectations

  • Prioritizing tasks to tackle what’s most important first

  • Using checklists to make sure nothing falls between the cracks

11. How would you deal with a colleague or superior who is consistently rude or disrespectful to you or others?

This is a delicate situation, so the best candidates’ answers will demonstrate their ability to handle it tactfully and professionally. 

They might mention that they’d ask to have a private conversation to discuss the behavior directly, aiming to understand the root cause and find a solution. A great response will also include consideration for escalating the issue to HR if necessary. 

Candidates should also highlight the importance of maintaining a positive work environment and good relationships with everyone on the team – even when conflicts arise. For this, a strong emotional intelligence is a must.

12. Describe how you would handle a confidential information request from someone not authorized to receive it.

Skilled receptionists will know how to communicate boundaries firmly yet politely. This shows their ability to enforce rules without causing offense. A proficient candidate would: 

  • Verify the requestor's authorization to access such information

  • Consult company policies or a supervisor when in doubt

  • Decline the request if the person is indeed not authorized to receive the information

  • Refer to confidentiality policies and explain them in more detail if needed

Strong critical thinking skills are essential for such situations. 

13. Tell me about a time when you had to handle a complaint and your manager was not available. What was the outcome?

Are candidates capable of making decisions on their own, without always checking in with a supervisor? Look for stories that prove applicants’ resourcefulness and their ability to take the initiative to de-escalate the situation. 

An effective response might involve gathering all available information and using their knowledge of company policies and past experiences to make the right decision and provide an excellent service. They might also mention that they followed up on the complaint with their manager to make sure that they did the right thing.

14. What would you do if you notice a coworker making a mistake that could affect the company’s reputation?

Look for candidates who value transparency and integrity. The best responses will strike a balance between: 

  • Addressing the problem promptly to avoid any negative impact 

  • Helping their coworker rectify the error

  • Asking a supervisor for help if the issue cannot be resolved on the spot

Skilled receptionists will know how to handle such situations on the spot and when to escalate them if necessary.

15. How do you manage guest complaints that seem unreasonable or without a clear solution?

Ideal candidates will demonstrate empathy and patience with guests, even when faced with unreasonable demands. For this, they need to: 

  • Show guests their satisfaction is a top priority

  • Use active listening to make sure they understand their perspective fully

  • Explain limitations or constraints

  • Look for alternative solutions they can offer

You can use TestGorilla’s Customer Service test to make sure candidates know how to maintain high customer satisfaction and avoid negative impressions, even in challenging situations. 

16. What strategies do you use to ensure a great customer experience when you’re already working at full capacity?

Experienced applicants will know how to manage their time efficiently, prioritize tasks, and communicate clearly in order to provide a positive experience even when they’re under pressure. 

They might mention setting clear expectations with customers about what can be realistically achieved and by when. 

Their approach could also include ordering tasks based on urgency and importance, as well as communicating openly and regularly with customers about the status of their requests. This demonstrates a strong commitment to transparency and accountability, which is essential for building customer loyalty and trust. 

Hotel receptionist interview questions 

The above questions are relevant for all receptionist roles, regardless of the specific industry or sector of your company. 

If you’re looking to hire hotel receptionists in particular, check out our Hospitality test to assess candidates’ skills. Below, you’ll find a selection of 24 hotel receptionist interview questions you can ask during interviews:

  • In your opinion, what is the most challenging part of working as a hotel receptionist and how do you manage it?

  • What is your process for handling special requests, such as for events or group bookings?

  • What’s your approach to learning the names and preferences of regular guests?

  • How do you ensure personalization in your service to guests, especially repeat visitors or VIPs?

  • How do you upsell hotel services or amenities to guests?

  • How would you handle a situation where a guest leaves without settling their bill?

  • How do you stay organized and keep track of guest requests?

  • Can you give an example of how you've handled a security concern in the past?

  • How would you manage a situation where you made a mistake with a booking?

  • How do you ensure smooth communication and coordination with housekeeping and maintenance teams?

  • Describe how you would manage a situation with a guest causing a scene in the lobby.

  • Can you describe a time when you had to apologize to a guest? What was the reason and how did you handle it?

  • Describe how you would deal with a guest who refuses to pay for damages.

  • Describe how you would handle a system failure during peak check-in time.

  • What local attractions would you recommend to visitors who are in our area only for a day?

  • What recommendations would you give to guests who are staying for a week?

  • Describe a time when you had to improvise to solve a guest's problem with limited resources.

  • Describe a situation where you had to handle a booking error on a busy night. What steps did you take to resolve the issue and how did you communicate with the affected guest?

  • How would you manage expectations for guests who booked through a third-party website and have misconceptions about their reservation?

  • What strategies do you use to handle guest complaints in a way that turns their experience from negative to positive?

  • How do you deal with language barriers with guests?

  • How do you handle situations where guests attempt to negotiate rates or ask for upgrades? 

  • You notice a coworker is issuing unauthorized discounts to family members or friends. What do you do? 

  • Do you have experience with guest management software tools? If yes, with which ones?

Find qualified receptionists for your organization the right interview questions and skills tests

A qualified receptionist should be able to communicate effectively, manage their time well, and have a general knowledge of working with computers and email providers like Microsoft Outlook. 

For the best results when looking to hire a receptionist, use skills tests to assess all applicants and then interview the ones who perform well on tests. 

To help you streamline the interview stage, we’ve selected the best interview questions for receptionists above. Using skills tests in tandem with structured interviews will help you find the perfect receptionist in no time. 

Sign up for your free TestGorilla plan to start assessing applicants’ skills today – or book a live demo with one of our specialists to see how you can optimize your hiring process and make better hires, faster.

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