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How to Hire a Receptionist

Updated on November 30, 2012
ChrisMcDade8 profile image

Christine McDade is a Human Resources professional (PHR & SHRM-CP) with over 18 years in the public sector.

Work can pile up when an employee suddenly resigns and leaves a big void in a work team.
Work can pile up when an employee suddenly resigns and leaves a big void in a work team. | Source

The Importance of Hiring the Right Person for a Receptionist Vacancy

Filling a much needed vacancy can be a daunting task for any employer. When that treasured, loyal employee announces that they are retiring or resigning to pursue other employment, many managers find themselves in the pursuit of replacing a very valued employee. Since every position has a contribution to make to the work team, it will be important to conduct a thorough search for the replacement in an efficient yet effective manner. When the position being filled is that of a receptionist, employers will be wise to take sufficient time to select a candidate who will have the skills to effectively greet and assist those customers who come in contact with him/her. Strong customer service skills, a professional disposition and a strong work ethic will be attributes that will serve any receptionist and his/her employer well. Employers will find hiring the new receptionist a successful endeavor when the recruitment effort considers all of the necessary attributes that make a successful addition to a work team.

What Should an Employer Look for in a Receptionist?

A successful receptionist will have a variety of skills that make him/her a valuable asset for any employer. When recruiting for a replacement receptionist, management should review the job description, and if necessary, update the information to be sure to hire the right applicant. Some of the crucial skills that will be great for a receptionist to possess are the following:

  • Excellent Customer Service Skills - One of the worst hires for any employer would be to hire a receptionist with poor customer service skills. After all, this person will be the first employee for a customer to encounter as the person approaches the business. That first contact will also be a first impression that will remain with that customer. The manner in which the receptionist greets the person must be positive in both approach and assistance that is provided. For example, if the customer is needing directions on where to find another employee's office, it will be important for the receptionist to provide the information in a manner that is polite and helpful. Customers appreciate a helpful and friendly response to questions they may have when they greet a receptionist. Such experiences will leave a lasting impression that may affect whether a customer returns to the business.
  • Professional and Neat Appearance - As the receptionist, the individual that an employer selects to fulfill this position should have an appearance that represents the business. In other words, the individual will need to have a professional and neat appearance that will reflect well on the organization. Professional does not have to mean a business suit. Rather, professional for a receptionist can be in the form of business or business casual attire that is neat and appropriate for the business. If the receptionist is working in a law firm, the individual will want to dress a little more conservatively and business-like than a receptionist in an elementary school. Receptionists in an elementary school, for example, will want to dress in a manner that sets a good example for children and parents who visit the school. Depending on the type of business that the receptionist will be representing, work attire should be a good reflection of the work environment to all who come to visit and interact with employees.
  • Strong Work Ethic - Managers recognize the importance of having a good receptionist to assist customers. Care and attention to the needs of customers who visit an organization must be delivered in a manner that shows the customer that they are willing to go the extra mile to assist them in whatever need they may have. An effective receptionist who does not have the information to assist a customer will know who to get the information from to retrieve the needed answers. Receptionists who really work hard to assist customers will make a positive impression that will likely reach the attention of management. Happy customers will sometimes share their experience with others, including managers, when they appreciate the care they were given by a good receptionist.
  • Good Telephone Skills - In addition to the face time that occurs between a receptionist and customer, there will be phone calls that must be answered as part of the receptionist job. It will be important to have a pleasant phone voice and demeanor when dealing with phone calls from customers. A receptionist must balance answering phone calls and walk in customers in a manner that will deliver the same customer service to both. Wrong numbers and customers calling for routine information will try the patience of any experienced receptionist. Having the patience to deal with phone calls on top of other customers who approach the receptionist's desk will be an attribute that a hiring organization will want from a new receptionist.

A good receptionist will need to balance a lot of tasks as he/she tends to the needs of customers and co workers. An employer recruiting an applicant to fill a receptionist vacancy has much to consider prior to making a final selection. A wise hiring manager will understand that receptionists must have many important skills to become an asset to their organization.

Before interviewing an applicant for a vacant receptionist position, hiring managers should review the job description to have a clear understanding of the position and its needs.
Before interviewing an applicant for a vacant receptionist position, hiring managers should review the job description to have a clear understanding of the position and its needs. | Source

Hiring a Receptionist Should Be Taken Seriously by an Organization

Having those strong qualities listed above will make a candidate an excellent addition to the hiring organization. A little preparation of reviewing the job description for which skills are necessary for a successful receptionist will serve an organization well. Once the applicant has been selected by the hiring manager, a thorough background check should include references that establish a stable work history. Dependability is very important for any job. Having a work history that includes stable work experiences that are confirmed by former employers will reflect well on the candidate who has been selected for the receptionist vacancy.

Hiring a receptionist should not be taken lightly as what they do is a very important part of delivering customer service to all who come to the organization. Professional, dependable applicants with excellent customer service should be considered as viable candidates for such a vacancy. Once a good hire has been made, organizations will enjoy a valuable team member who will be a good reflection of the company to all.


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