10 Essential Receptionist Interview Questions and Answers

Updated: September 9, 2020

Some people prefer to communicate via email and text, while others jump at the opportunity to shake people’s hands and interact face-to-face. If you’re a people person, with a positive attitude and excellent organizational skills, being a receptionist could be the job for you. Once you’ve landed an interview, you’ll want to review the interview basics. Then, prepare for the big day with these 10 essential receptionist interview questions and answers.

1. How do you manage your workload when it’s really busy?

Being a receptionist means being a multi-tasking master, so your interviewer wants to know that you’ll be able to stay on top of competing priorities, deadlines, and needs—without getting overwhelmed. When answering this question, you want to speak to your prior work experience, but busy times in your academic life can also support a good answer.

“During my last semester, I was taking five courses, and three of them had final exams scheduled over the same two days. Additionally, I had assignments due during that time, and I was playing soccer and volunteering twice a week. I had to prioritize and be extremely organized. I set out a work schedule ahead of time and re-set expectations with my extracurriculars, including temporarily reducing my volunteer hours until my exams were over. By laying out my schedule on a calendar and blocking out my time, I ensured that all my time was being used effectively.”

2. What software are you comfortable using in terms of office documentation and administration?

As a receptionist, you’ll be expected to be familiar with most of the Microsoft Office Suite at a minimum. It’s good to mention all the software you’re proficient with, including any specialized software for accounting, communications, and calendar management. Bonus points for following up by asking what systems and software the company uses, and then mentioning your experience with those.

“I have experience using the full Microsoft Office Suite, including Access, and I also have experience with specialized software like Outlook and Google Drive. I consider myself pretty tech-savvy, so I’m excited to learn new systems going forward. What software does your company use?”

3. What do you think is the most essential quality in a successful receptionist?

Receptionists keep the office running smoothly and are often the primary contact for the company. Your answer should reflect these skills and any others that were highlighted in the job description.

“A great receptionist has excellent organizational skills, is a valuable resource that employees can count on, and has a positive and friendly attitude at all times. A receptionist is the face of the company for many clients, so it’s vital to make a great first impression.”

4. Do you have experience with multi-line phone lines?

This is a fairly straightforward yes/no question. You either have the experience, or you don’t. If you haven’t used multi-line phone lines before, keep your response upbeat and positive. You want to assure the interviewer that it’s something you can easily learn.

“I haven’t had the opportunity to operate multiple phone lines, but I’m confident that I would catch on pretty quickly. I love learning new skills, and I’m very willing to do some training prior to my start date if I’m selected for the position.”

5. What’s your typing speed and error rating?

Again, this is a very straightforward question. As a prospective receptionist, you should know your words per minute and error rating. If you don’t know, take an online quiz. If you don’t have time for that, speak to your typing skills and general experience with something like this:

“I haven’t assessed my typing speed recently, but I’d be happy to take an online assessment and send you the results after our interview. I believe my typing skills are very strong, since I’ve typed up countless academic assignments. I’m also very detail-oriented and ensure my work is always carefully proofread and edited.”

6. Have you applied for any other job opportunities?

The key to answering this question is to be honest, but make the interviewer feel like their company is your number one choice. Be as specific as you can to show that you’ve done your research. Here’s how:

“Yes, since I’m currently not employed, I am actively pursuing a few different opportunities. However, a position with your company is my number one choice based on your corporate values and the diversity of tasks that this role offers.”

7. Tell me about a situation where you had to handle a difficult customer.

In any role in which you’re interacting with a diversity of people, you’ll end up in some uncomfortable situations. By asking this question, your interviewer is looking for confirmation that you’ve been in these types of situations before and can stay calm and collected as you work to find a resolution. Keep your response positive, and learn more about how to utilize the STAR method to answer behavioral questions like this.

“In my part-time retail job, I had a customer who was disappointed in the color options and became very loud and aggressive. I maintained a calm voice so as not to escalate the conflict, and I politely explained that we would notify him as soon as new inventory arrived. He calmed down and left satisfied.”

8. How do you or would you manage confidential information?

As a receptionist, you’ll have access to private information. Your answer should reassure your interviewer that you appreciate the sensitivity of confidential information. If you’ve handled confidential information in the past, let the interviewer know.

“Having worked on student records in the Office of Student Life, I’m well versed in protecting confidential information. I would never give out personal or private information to anyone unless the individual has authorized it in advance. If the person requesting the information were insistent, I would try to verify that they’re authorized to receive it, but without that confirmation, I would not give it out.”

9. How do you keep yourself organized?

In many ways, the receptionist is the glue that holds the office together. You’ll have to be super organized—not only for yourself, but for others. Your response should reassure your interviewer that if they pick you, nothing will slip through the cracks. Put them at ease with an answer like this:

“I’ve always been a very organized person. When I was just 10 years old, I started a pet-sitting business, and that first summer I had to coordinate schedules for four different dogs! I have certain systems, like my calendar, for making sure I’m always on-time for commitments, and I keep to-do lists to make sure that I get everything done each day. I’m careful about version control when it comes to documents, and I’m well versed in project management software, like Smartsheet.”

10. What sets you apart from other candidates that we’re interviewing for this position?

Now’s your time to shine! Don’t be modest. Take this opportunity to sell your interviewer on why they should select you. Highlight some of your personal strengths, relevant work experience, or awards and accolades that you didn’t previously get to cover. Here’s how to sell yourself:

“If you select me for this position, I will wow you with my organizational skills and the amount of work I can handle. I thrive when I have lots to do, and when I get to work with other people. I love the challenge of putting out fires and solving problems for people, which would make me a great receptionist.”

As an aspiring receptionist, let your friendly personality shine through at all times. Then, make sure you can put your best foot forward by rehearsing your answers to these 10 essential interview questions.