Hiring Today’s Receptionists: What You Need to Know

Today’s receptionists look nothing like they did a decade ago. IVRs and automation are cycling out basic receptionist tasks – like transferring callers to specific staff members or departments – and a new generation of a more well rounded and nimble receptionist is becoming the new normal.

With different expectations comes a new rule book on hiring your next receptionist. Today’s candidates need to have strong phone etiquette, but that’s really only a piece of the puzzle. If you’re in charge of hiring the office receptionist,  you need to consider other skills like technical aptitude, emotional intelligence, and the ability to adapt to the needs of different callers. First impressions still matter and the way your receptionist handles your calls is a direct reflection on your brand. The right receptionist will have a profound impact on your business.

If you’re starting to hire for your receptionist position, we’re showcasing 3 areas to focus on as you’re reviewing potential candidates.

1. Great phone etiquette will always be the top skill

First impressions are important, and in the business world, they can easily make or break a new opportunity. A receptionist that is warm, polite and engaging is one that will easily connect with customers on a personal level and help secure long-lasting relationships!

Consider these tips on how to gauge phone etiquette:

Conduct a phone interview prior to your in-person interview

The best way to experience a candidates phone etiquette is to talk to them on the phone. If you’re interested in a candidate, set up a phone interview first so you can hear how they sound and if they give off a good vibe.

Are they mindful of their volume?

Offices are busy environments, and if a lot of people are on the phone at once, it can get loud. Someone with good phone etiquette will always be mindful of how loud they are speaking while on the phone. If you can hear your receptionists’ conversation from your office, they’re probably not the right fit.

They answer the phone correctly.

If you’re picking up the phone at your house, you may answer with “hello?” but that’s not the way a business should answer. A receptionist with good phone etiquette will always answer with a friendly greeting and introduce both themselves and the name of the company. For example, “Hello and thank you for calling ABC Plumbing, my name is Gabby. How may I help you today?”

2. Get to know their technical ability outside of Excel or Word

Almost everybody is familiar with the standard Office products like Word and Excel and know how they operate. However, as technology continues to advance, new products and processes will be created to help streamline the work production of any modern day business. Having a tech-savvy receptionist at your disposal is an asset.

Here are some questions to ask and what to look for:

Ask what experience they have with various software.

Have they ever used a CRM before? What helpdesk software do they have experience with? A good receptionist will have some knowledge of various systems and lingo that are used frequently among businesses both big and small. The more experience they have with systems outside of Microsoft Office, the more likely it is that they’ll catch on quickly to whatever system you’re using.

How are their message taking abilities?

This may not necessarily be a “technical ability” but it’s close. Creating clear, concise messages that are easy to follow and that illustrate attention to detail are all traits that a smart, organized, tech-savvy receptionist should have.

Do they adapt quickly to changes?

In business, changes come quickly, and it’s important for your team to adapt in order to stay with the program. An employee that is unable to catch on to new processes will ultimately slow the rest of the team down which could lead to serious losses. When looking for a receptionist to be the “voice of your company” you want to make sure they can change gears without hesitation.

3. Assess how your receptionist will adapt to the emotional needs of the caller

Having the ability to empathize with customers is essential. Phone calls will bring in a wide variety of requests, questions, issues and of course, emotions. Being prepared to handle them all is a key feature when looking for a solid receptionist.

Here are some questions to ask and what to look for:

Ask if they have experience working in customer service.

Having experience working retail, grocery stores, call centers, or any other job that focuses on customer service is a good thing to look for when finding a receptionist. A person with a customer service background is familiar with fixing problems and making people happy.

Give them a couple fake scenarios to see how they respond.

During your interview, give them a few examples of some issues customers have called in with, and ask how they would handle someone who was upset or irate. For example, if Joe Smith called in upset with his most recent invoice, will your receptionist be able to keep it calm, cool and collected or will they crumble under the pressure?

Ask your customers for their opinions.

The people communicating most with your receptionist are your customers, so it’s a good idea to ask them for their input. A simple survey regarding their experiences interacting with your company will provide great insight into what’s working and what’s not. For example, if customers love your business but feel differently about the person up front answering calls and greeting walk ins, it may be time to rethink your options.

Is your current candidate the best fit for your organization? Are you having trouble finding a great receptionist or just don’t have the time? If you’re still searching and hitting walls, you can also hire a call center to be the front end receptionist of your business.

Get started with SAS. Free 14-day call center trial.

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