Ready to Hire a Receptionist? Search for These 6 Attributes

By Robert Half on April 12, 2022 at 4:00pm

Looking for a new receptionist or front-desk coordinator? If your answer is yes, you’re not alone. As more companies welcome their employees back to the office, managers will be planning to hire administrative professionals with polished receptionist and front-office skills.

The job of a receptionist can be critical to a company’s public image and customer satisfaction. This is the first person to greet guests and vendors, either in person or by phone. This important job duty requires superb soft skills, the nimbleness to handle multiple requests and shifting priorities, and the poise to navigate high-stress situations. Professionalism and expertise must be communicated to the visitor or caller from the very outset.

The right receptionist skills and experience are key to this role. If you’re unsure where to start, read on for some attributes to look for and tips for evaluating candidates as you set out to hire a receptionist in today's labor market.

1. Ability to see the big picture

Since the receptionist is often the first point of contact customers and others experience at your company, you want an administrative professional with excellent interpersonal skills. Serving as your initial line of defense in handling customer inquiries and complaints means they need to have a calm, professional demeanor.

A great receptionist knows the right people in the organization to diffuse a difficult situation. They know your team, their workloads, roles and supervisors, and they respect the chain of command. They also have an ear to the ground for business opportunities and help direct customers to the right company representative to meet their needs.

Need help finding professionals with the best receptionist skills? Robert Half has you covered.

2. Multitasking aptitude

To deal with a request from a staff member, supervisor or customer, a receptionist must pause whatever they are doing and pay attention to the matter at hand. Individuals who cannot multitask or are easily flustered are not good candidates for the role.

Through studying the organizational structure, they know who can address a vendor’s concern or help with a client request. Top receptionists also must adhere to principles of confidentiality and discretion.

3. Adaptability

Depending on the company, receptionist duties may now include purchasing, marketing and managing vendor accounts. They may also be called upon to handle HR projects, such as assisting with gathering resumes and cover letters, and scheduling interviews.

So, adaptability is almost always near the top of any list of receptionist skills.

Read our post on the best interview questions to ask administrative professionals.

4. Receptionist skills involving technology

Technology has transformed the job of a receptionist. Today’s front-office and administrative professionals must be proficient in social media and calendaring software. Some may be called on to direct the work of interns and handle employee expenses. To support remote work arrangements, receptionists are using videoconferencing and collaboration software such as Google Docs, Zoom, Slack and Microsoft Teams. They're also being asked to teach these tools to other staff members.

According to Robert Half research, tech-savvy receptionists are in high demand. Top candidates often possess a bachelor’s degree and are well-versed in database management, Microsoft Office, cloud-based tools and receptionist software, including VoIP, scheduling, and visitor and delivery management. Being bilingual may lead to a higher salary.

5. Soft skills

Basic communication abilities are not enough when it comes to the job of receptionist. Look for a candidate who collaborates easily, can give and receive criticism gracefully, and rises above petty office politics. Receptionist duties require equal competence in written, phone and face-to-face communications.

Empathy and understanding human behavior are skills the best receptionists excel at. For example, rather than bristle at a customer caller, they ask themselves, “Is the person on the other end of the line angry or just seeking follow-up on the status of a project with one of the team members?”

6. Organizational skills

The job of a receptionist requires superior organizational skills. They must know which staff member to call at any given moment, whether it is for a company gathering or a marketing or press inquiry.

Considering this range of important duties, look for a receptionist who can make an immediate impact, has a track record of showing initiative, is willing to collaborate, and possesses the ideal balance of experience and potential for growth.

More on how to hire a receptionist

You aren't alone when it comes to looking for help to manage the rising workloads that come with today's accelerated pace of business.

Find out more about the trends shaping the hiring market for administrative professionals — and check out starting salaries for receptionist and front desk coordinator roles, including salary ranges fine-tuned to your location — in the latest Robert Half Salary Guide.

Also, consider engaging the services of a talent solutions firm, like ours.

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