6 Attributes to Look for in a Great Receptionist

A smiling receptionist writing in a notebook

Skilled receptionists are in demand today, and top candidates don't stay in the job market for long. As a result, it's now very important to identify the qualities you're looking for in a receptionist before starting your search for the perfect candidate. By using very clear criteria, hiring managers can identify the right prospect faster — and act more quickly to avoid losing a great receptionist to competing job offers. According to the annual OfficeTeam Salary Guide, companies with an efficient hiring process like this have a better chance of landing highly skilled job seekers.

Do you need help finding administrative talent? Learn how OfficeTeam can help you connect with the right receptionist — temporarily or for the longer term.

So what makes an ideal receptionist? In general, you want someone 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 future advancement. But as you make your hiring criteria more specific, be sure you include the following six traits:

1. Effective communication

Naturally, a receptionist should have excellent verbal communication skills. Active listening and great customer service skills also are a must. A talented receptionist can connect callers and visitors with the right employees, as well as handle basic customer service problems and requests adeptly.

2. Professionalism

As the first person your customers, visitors and future employees encounter, the receptionist needs to make a good first impression. You'll want someone on the front lines who has a professional appearance and attitude. So consider each candidate's polish and poise during the interview process.

3. Interpersonal aplomb

Good interpersonal skills go beyond basic communication abilities. Look for a candidate who collaborates easily, can give and receive criticism gracefully, and rises above petty office politics. Soft skills like friendliness and likability are especially important for the receptionist role.

4. Multitasking capabilities

Receptionists have multiple responsibilities, which they must often juggle simultaneously. These could include handling incoming calls, screening callers and managing call traffic, while running a busy reception area. Receptionists might also assist other administrative staff with general work overflow — or help with special projects that require word processing, data entry and online research. So your receptionist needs to be adept at managing multiple tasks without getting flustered.

During the interview, ask candidates how they prioritize several tasks throughout the day. Look for clues that they're organized, calm, detail-oriented and responsible about tying up loose ends.

5. Organizational abilities

Organized people develop processes to keep them on track, even when they encounter the unexpected. Great receptionists show a knack and enthusiasm for organization. They can find files and phone numbers at a moment's notice and maintain a tidy work area. To assess organizational skills, ask candidates to explain a filing system they implemented or how they prefer to set up calendars and contacts.

6. Technical prowess

Any receptionist should be comfortable using phone systems, copiers and printers. And the more experience they have, the better. Word processing skills are a must, while familiarity with Excel, desktop publishing, social media or industry-specific software can be an asset. If special technical skills are required for the role, make sure the candidate is a good match.

Whether you get help from a staffing agency or follow your own hiring procedures, make sure your receptionist job description includes these six critical skills.