Like most job interviews, an interview for a job as a receptionist will begin with the typical interview questions. Receptionist interview questions will be followed up by more job-related interview questions that focus on customer service, patience, and organizational skills:
Q: As a receptionist, what do you generally do with downtime during your job (or if this is your first receptionist job, what would you do with downtime)?
A: Productivity. The employer is aware that there can be a lot of down time when being a receptionist. They aren’t expecting you to be doing something all of the time, but they want to know that you will occupy downtime by doing something productive. For example, you may say you will be taking inventory for office supplies or managing the company calendar. You could also be shredding documents or organizing company documents. The answer to this question will greatly vary depending on the specific company that you are interviewing for, but you want the interview to perceive you as an individual who can productively multitask throughout the day and help increase company productivity. Remember, if you can do more than just answer phones you are saving the company money.
Q: If it is a busy day on the phones, and you are asked to do several other tasks throughout the day, how do you react?
A: This interview question can be asked several different ways. When you hear a question similar to this, the employer is trying to grade your patience. Will you get overwhelmed if you are asked to do several things during the day? Do you get frustrated easily? Clearly you want to portray yourself as a cool-headed, multi-talented individual. Explain that your primary responsibility is to answer the phone and speak to clients, but you are more than capable of doing tasks throughout the day when you’re not on the phone. What if a co-worker asks you to help with something but you are tied up on the phone? Explain to the interviewer that in this situation you will inform your co-worker that you are unable to help them right now, but once the call volume slows down you will begin working on the task they need assistance with. Remember, patience is the character quality you want to display here.
Q: Describe a hostile situation involving a client or caller. How did you handle it?
A: Once again, patience is going to be the key to properly answering this interview question. Use a past situation (or if you have nothing to go off of, make one up) where a caller was upset or angry. First, explain situation to the interviewer from the caller’s perspective (why they were upset, what happened their product, etc.). You do not want to pass judgment on the caller in any way (at least to your prospective employer), because this will make them think you will treat their customers/clients the same way. Instead, you want to explain the caller’s situation in a fair and unbiased way and then go on to explain how you calmed the caller. Whether you solved their problem by directly them to the proper employee or you informed them their inquiry would receive priority, the interviewer wants to know that you are a problem solver.
Q: What is your biggest weakness and explain how you can improve on it?
A: As stated in our typical interview questions, it is best to answer the weakness interview question in a quasi-honest manner. Whatever you do, DO NOT try to cleverly disguise a strength as a weakness. Saying that you “work to hard” or you are an “over achiever” are terrible answers and almost every employer will see this as a disingenuous. Give a real weakness, such as problems prioritizing or poor public speaking, and explain how you have addressed the problem in your prior employment (See the Weakness Question for the full answer). The only caveat to the weakness question is make sure to never admit having a weakness at a skill specifically needed for your job. Also, never admit being bad with computers – almost every job uses computers nowadays and unless you will never be in an office, a little white lie about your computer experience never hurts.