What to Say at a Receptionist Interview

by Jan Archer, Demand Media
    Be friendly and professional in the interview, as you would be on the job.

    Be friendly and professional in the interview, as you would be on the job.

    So, you landed an interview for a receptionist job. Now it's time to decide how to best portray yourself as the right fit for the job. Your demeanor, communication skills and mannerisms are crucial parts of this interview because these will be some of your most important assets as a receptionist. Show the company you're ready to greet and please its clients by portraying professionalism in the interview. Most interviews involve standard key questions that prompt you to open up about yourself. Knowing how to answer these can seal the deal in the interview.

    Your Biggest Strength

    The interviewer will likely ask what you think your most solid strength is ... and she won't be asking about your bench press numbers. Instead, she's trying to determine a couple of things. She wants to know what you bring to the table that other candidates don't, and she also wants to measure how confident you are by observing your ability to talk about one of your best features. You'll want to point to a strength that pertains to the job. People skills and organizations skills are the two most important assets to have as a receptionist. You'll spend most of the day greeting and communicating with clients, and you'll be responsible for organizing and recording appointments and paperwork. You may also need to use a phone system and an email program to communicate, so speaking and writing skills are crucial. Your answer should highlight a strength such as "handling customers and clients," "organizing an appointment book," or "problem-solving." Pick one, then illustrate it with specific details relevant to the job.

    Describe a Problem You've Solved

    Interviewers often ask you to describe a past experience in which you handled conflict or faced a challenge. Always refer to a time when you solved a problem, and especially one dealing with customer satisfaction or communication. A receptionist needs to be able to handle unhappy clients and customers with ease and grace. Quickly give a synopsis of the problem that was present, then explain in detail the methods and tactics you used to alleviate the problem. The employer wants to know that you'll send all clients out the door feeling satisfied, even if it means biting your tongue and putting on your most friendly face.

    Stress the Importance of the Job

    Show that you have pride in being punctual and detail-oriented. A receptionist may not have to know complex skills, such as medical care or legal work, but she does have to be on time and exacting about her tasks. A receptionist cannot run late because the company's front desk cannot be left unmanned. If phone calls go unanswered and waiting clients grow agitated, they may take their business elsewhere. Stress that you understand the importance of a receptionist in any office, no matter the industry, and communicate that you understand that you do not take the responsibility of the the position lightly.

    Express Interest in the Business

    One way to really seal the deal at a receptionist's interview is to show how much you want to be a part of the company. Express interest in the company culture by mentioning things you like about the company. For example, say that you're interested in the philanthropy that the company participates in and want to become a part of fundraising teams. Or, mention that you are impressed by the management structure of the company or the amount you could learn by joining its staff. If you show that you've done some homework and researched the company, the interviewer will feel like you're looking for something more than just a paycheck. It will demonstrate that you are eager to work toward the bigger mission of the firm rather than just fill your job description.

    About the Author

    Jan Archer began writing professionally in 2007. She holds a bachelor's degree in political science and a master's degree in creative writing. Archer has researched and co-written trade books for Books-a-Million and has written numerous articles on green living, health and nutrition, education and a variety of other topics. She teaches business writing and composition, and offers private web consulting and editing for small businesses.

    Photo Credits

    • Goodshoot/Goodshoot/Getty Images