Careers advice

Receptionist job interview questions and answers

Here’s what you should expect in a receptionist job interview in New Zealand.

As a receptionist, you’ll be one of the first people a customer or client interacts with when they enter the company premises.

In other words, first impressions will count for a lot in this role. This means your job interview takes on a whole new level of importance, as it will showcase to the employer a lot of the skills you’ll need for the job.

To help you prepare, we’ve got some sample interview questions for receptionist roles that employers love to ask. Prepare for these, and you’ll be putting yourself on the front foot.

Receptionist interview questions and answers

1. How do you manage simultaneous requests from different people?

Behavioural interview questions around workload management are common in receptionist interviews, as you’ll need to juggle multiple priorities, often coming from a range of different people within the organisation.

The most important thing here is that you’ll need to show you have a strategy for sorting the must-do-now tasks from those that can afford to be pushed to the back burner for now. Wherever possible, try to use real life examples to demonstrate how you’ve achieved this in the past and the success you’ve had.

You should expect behavioural interview questions that test your thinking in hypothetical scenarios.

2. How do you deal with difficult customers?

One of the less fun parts of being a receptionist is dealing with unhappy or downright rude customers. Unfortunately, it’s just part of the job.

Again, when employers are asking this type of question, they want to see that you’re aware that this will happen, and have developed a constructive way of turning this situation around.

Every receptionist will have a different approach to this situation, so there isn’t one correct answer, but among the things they’ll want to hear are:

  • How you’ll talk the customer down if they’re worked up.
  • How you’ll get to the root cause of the problem.
  • When you’ll escalate the issue, and who you’ll escalate to.

Here, we’d recommend using the STAR method for answering interview questions. STAR stands for ‘Situation, Task, Action, Result’ – meaning you need to provide a situation you’ve been in, explain the task you had to complete, the action you took and the (successful) result you saw.

3. What software packages do you have experience with?

One of the key skills for working as a receptionist is being able to use whatever software packages the company uses for its data management and client record-keeping.

Now, there’s no need to panic if you find out in the interview that this company uses a suite of programmes that you haven’t touched before. If this is the case, what you need to do is show the breadth of experience you have with other software packages, and talk about how quickly you’re able to pick these up. Of course, if you know that one of the software packages you’ve used previously has very similar functionality to the one the company has opted for, it makes sense to make particular mention of the transferable skills you have here.

4. How have you improved processes in your previous roles?

Receptionist roles are all about efficiency, and many organisations have developed processes to ensure that everything runs as smoothly.

However, great professionals don’t only know how to follow existing procedures, they can also spot room for im provement. Therefore, your job interviewer will be keen to know whether you;ve got the eagle-eye and confidence necessary to pick out existing problems and raise them.

Employers will want to know what extra you bring to the table.

5. How would you add value as a receptionist?

This is another question aimed at discovering what you bring to the table over and above your core duties. From your perspective, this question is the perfect opportunity for you to mention any of your core skills and attributes that haven’t come up so far.

For example, if you speak a foreign language, which might help in communicating with customers from overseas, this question is a gift that allows you to talk about this extra skill.

If nothing immediately springs to mind, instead, you could talk about how you go above and beyond to make customers feel welcomed and listened to, therefore making you the best possible first point of contact for the business.

6. What have you done in previous roles to increase revenue?

While it may not be your primary responsibility, there will be opportunities in your time as a receptionist to increase revenue for the business, for example through upsells.

Therefore, your prospective employer will be interested in whether you have experience in doing this before, and how you go about raising revenue without making the customer feel like they’re sold to.

If you haven’t done this before, don’t panic, but it might be a good idea to have a quick read through some basic sales techniques to see how this might be done. A good answer here will demonstrate that you understand the importance of not being too forceful with your selling, and that you prioritise the customer experience first and foremost.