Receptionists are the first person to greet you when you visit an organisation's offices. Their role covers both administrative duties as well as fulfilling a customer service role.
Making visitors feel welcome, ensuring that they direct visitors or phone calls to the correct person in the organisation, and scheduling appointments means that they are critical to the smooth running of the organisation's workflow.
Due to the nature of their role, receptionists play a pivotal role in making an excellent first impression and upholding the organisation's reputation.
This article outlines the information you can use to help you recruit for receptionist roles. We explore the day-to-day tasks, the skills and attributes required to be an effective receptionist, and the tests you can incorporate into your recruitment process to select the most suitable candidates for your receptionist vacancies.
What should a receptionist be able to do?
In general, a receptionist's duties cover both customer service and administrative tasks.
- Meeting and greeting customers or clients and directing them to the appropriate person in the organisation at their specified appointment time.
- Showing visitors around the reception or meeting room areas, including facilities
- Maintaining an accurate record of visitors entering and leaving the premises
- Answering phone calls and routing them to the correct person in the organisation, taking accurate messages if the person is unavailable
- Scheduling and updating appointments, updating calendars as required
- Taking calls from customers or clients, resolving any complaints to a satisfactory outcome
- Sending information to customers or clients such as travel information, parking passes, or office details
- Take receipt of and distribute mail to relevant parties in the organisation
- Maintenance of the reception area to ensure a tidy and professional environment
- Prepare any memos or correspondence relating to visitor enquiries
- Taking orders from customers and directing the information to the correct department
- Taking queries from internal stakeholders concerning meeting room bookings, booking space as relevant, and keeping accurate records
Depending on the type of business a receptionist works at, additional duties may include taking and processing payments over the telephone or in person.
Skills to look for in a receptionist
While every organisation is different in its culture and the services they offer to clients, there are several skills that recruiters look for when hiring a receptionist.
Verbal communication skills: communicating professionally and empathically with others is critical for receptionists to create a good impression.
Active listening: listening fully to what the other person is saying, whether in person or over the phone, means that receptionists can effectively deal with queries or direct clients to the right person in the organisation.
IT literacy: receptionists deal with multiple software applications as part of their day-to-day role. They need to demonstrate proficient IT skills when using office management software. These include calendar scheduling software, telephony systems, document management systems, and customer relationship management systems.
Problem-solving/critical thinking: effective receptionists need to be able to solve problems quickly and efficiently. Using critical thinking in decision-making when you have a client in front of you or a customer on the line helps maintain the good impression and reputation of the organisation.
Written communication skills: to ensure accurate information is shared with those in the organisation, receptionists need to be able to document their conversations accurately and succinctly. When communicating with external clients, any written communications need to be professional in their format, structure, and tone appropriate for the audience.
Useful abilities of a receptionist
Effective receptionists demonstrate daily, a range of abilities that enable them to communicate, problem-solve and empathise with those they meet and speak to.
These abilities include:
Clarity of speech: receptionists need to communicate clearly when speaking with clients in person or over the phone. They need to be able to judge the situation, vary the pace and tone of their voice and ensure that what they are saying is straightforward to understand.
Attention to detail: accuracy in maintaining records or documenting information is essential in ensuring the correct data is shared with others in the organisation. Receptionists need to ensure that they don't lose focus, even if an incoming call or a person is waiting to be attended to at the reception desk.
Deductive reasoning: the ability to make logical deductions when presented with limited information ensures that receptionists can solve problems quickly and keep the organisation's workflow running smoothly.
Written comprehension: in their role, receptionists are often presented with written documentation from clients in different formats. The ability to understand this information and use this to make informed decisions is critical.
Clarity when writing: the ability to write clear and concise documentation means that receptionists can maintain a professional impression when communicating with all clients, whether external or internal stakeholders.
Which soft skills tests could I use to hire a receptionist?
Assessing applicants on whether they demonstrate the necessary soft skills required to succeed in the role helps narrow down your applicant pool. This means you focus your recruitment efforts only on those who show the skills needed to be an efficient and effective receptionist.
Some of the soft skills tests you can use as part of your recruitment process include:
Teamwork: receptionists are an integral part of an organisation, working together with others to ensure the smooth running and sharing of information from clients and colleagues. They need to work well with others, collaborate, and encourage others. In doing so, they can efficiently and effectively carry out their tasks as a receptionist.
Time management: being an effective receptionist means managing your time productively and efficiently. Receptionists are busy; they deal with multiple tasks and require exceptional time management skills to succeed in their role. A time management skills test enables you to determine whether candidates can assess a situation and prioritise tasks for completion logically.
Interpersonal skills: including an interpersonal skills test as part of your recruitment process enables you to assess whether candidates can communicate with empathy and deal with and diffuse difficult situations with tact and diplomacy. The test measures whether candidates have the emotional intelligence to work well with others, an essential skill required given the number of people receptionists meet daily.
What technical or aptitude tests could I use to hire a receptionist?
When carrying out their day-to-day duties, receptionists use several computers and IT-related software packages. Being proficient in the use of various software is essential for a receptionist to carry out their responsibilities effectively.
Due to this, when recruiting for receptionist roles, it is also advisable to assess an applicant's technical skills and aptitudes as required by the position. Tests that you could use to help determine which applicants demonstrate the necessary technical skill level and aptitude include:
Excel skills test: assessing a candidate's proficiency in using Excel spreadsheets and associated functionality.
Verbal reasoning: including oral comprehension and expression, written comprehension and expression. This test assesses a candidate's aptitude for communicating effectively verbally and in writing.
Logical reasoning: including deductive reasoning skills that assess whether candidates can use information in a logical manner to solve problems effectively.
Our recommended test battery for a receptionist
Different test batteries are available to help filter your applicant pool down to only those that demonstrate the soft skills and aptitudes needed for a receptionist.
Our recommendations include:
Excel skills test: to ensure the person you hire is comfortable with using Excel in their daily tasks.
Interpersonal skills test: ensuring that the person you hire for your receptionist vacancy is able to communicate with others using empathy, tact, and diplomacy. That they are able to communicate effectively in different, often challenging situations.
Time management test: ensuring that whomever you bring into your organisation can effectively manage their time, be productive in their role and deal with conflicting demands effectively
For more information about hiring a receptionist, check out our receptionist test guide.