This article is part of a larger series on Hiring.
A receptionist is often the first point of contact for visitors and clients, so it’s crucial to find someone who can represent your organization professionally and provide exceptional customer service. The best receptionists help keep your office running smoothly and clients satisfied.
To find a great receptionist, you’ll have to first consider what you need and create a job description to ensure that you approach the screening process properly. You’ll also want to check references and perhaps conduct a skills assessment.
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Here’s how to hire a receptionist quickly and efficiently:
Step 1: Assess the Type of Receptionist You Need
First, it’s essential to determine your organization’s specific requirements for a receptionist. Consider factors such as the volume of visitors and phone calls, administrative tasks, and other special skills or qualifications needed.
With that in mind, consider the type of receptionist that aligns best with your organization’s needs and tailor the job description accordingly. Here are some types of receptionists your organization might need:
- Front desk receptionist: This is the most traditional type of receptionist who sits at the front desk or lobby. They answer phone calls, greet visitors, direct inquiries to the proper individuals or departments, and handle general administrative tasks.
- Corporate receptionist: These receptionists manage high-traffic lobbies and provide a professional and welcoming environment for guests, clients, and employees. They handle complex phone systems, schedule appointments, manage conference room bookings, and assist with administrative tasks specific to the corporate environment.
- Medical receptionist: Usually found in clinics, hospitals, or medical offices, they handle patient inquiries, manage patient records, and coordinate with medical staff. They may also handle insurance verification and billing-related tasks.
- Hotel receptionist: This type of receptionist works in the hospitality industry and is responsible for guest check-ins and check-outs, managing reservations, providing information about hotel services and amenities, and addressing guest concerns or requests. They work closely with other hotel departments to ensure a smooth guest experience.
- Salon or spa receptionist: They greet clients, schedule appointments for hair, nail, or spa services, handle client inquiries, and manage product sales. They help maintain client satisfaction. They play a key role in maintaining client satisfaction and managing the flow of appointments in the salon or spa.
- Legal receptionist: They handle administrative tasks specific to the legal field. They manage incoming and outgoing mail, assist with document preparation, coordinate meetings and appointments for attorneys, and handle client inquiries.
- Virtual receptionist: They work remotely and provide receptionist services through phone, email, and online communication channels. Virtual receptionists handle tasks such as answering phone calls, taking messages, managing appointments, and providing customer support services—all without being physically present in the office.
As it goes when hiring for any role, make sure that you’re classifying your employees correctly. Apart from saving you time and money, it will ensure that you’re fully compliant with the law, especially when it comes to taxes and benefits. Check out our full guide to types of employees for more information.
Step 2: Create a Comprehensive Job Description
A well-crafted job description is vital in attracting qualified candidates. Clearly outline the qualifications, responsibilities, and expectations of the role. Include details about tasks such as greeting visitors, answering phones, scheduling appointments, and handling administrative duties. Specify any necessary qualifications, including communication skills, customer service experience, or proficiency in certain software or languages.
More than anything, receptionists should be strong in soft skills like communication and staying cool in stressful situations. Being able to handle a phone system and basic computer programs is also important.
In general, include the following in your job description:
- Telephone skills
- Able to listen and communicate clearly
- Customer service skills
- Polite and professional
- Ability to handle pressure
- Supply management
- Familiarity with word processing programs (Microsoft Office), email, scheduling software (if you use it)
Consider adopting a skills-based hiring process, as a college education may not be necessary for every receptionist position—a local repair shop, for example, may do very well with a friendly high-school grad who is eager to learn. Meanwhile, industries that are more technical and where people expect immediate answers, such as medical offices, may want candidates with advanced degrees or specific certifications.
Receptionists are usually entry-level positions, although those working with executives or large companies may need more experience and qualifications. If you only need a receptionist in a crunch, such as in a busy season or to cover an absence, consider using a temp agency. This can also be a good place to find a receptionist that you may eventually want to hire full time.
How Much Does a Receptionist Make?
Some job descriptions and job postings will include a salary or salary range, so you should have in mind from the start what the position will pay. In fact, depending on the state you are hiring in, you may be required to post a salary range in your job ad. Check your state laws to see if your state has this requirement.
According to ZipRecruiter, the average salary for a receptionist as of May 2023 is $14.92 per hour. However, the wage depends greatly on the industry. Receptionists in the medical field can command as much as $48.15 an hour, for example.
Virtual receptionists earn $17.55 an hour per ZipRecruiter. However, if you hire your receptionist through a service, your fee may be different. For example, you may pay per month by time; rates can run from $1 to $2 per minute, for example, for phone-answering-based services, and $34 to $48 per hour for more dedicated virtual receptionists.
Full-time employees will also incur expenses for benefits and tax withholdings. You don’t need to pay those with part-time, freelance, or receptionists hired through a service.
Step 3: Promote the Job Opening
To maximize your reach, use a combination of online and offline ways of promoting your job post. Hiring a receptionist is similar to hiring for other company roles. For in-person positions, it is always good to look locally.
- Contact local employment agencies
- Contact college or high school career centers
- Post on job boards or local want-ads
- Ask friends or employees for recommendations
- Hire internally
- Post on social media
Not every job board costs money. We found 26 free job board sites that are great places to find your next great hire.
Step 4: Review Resumes
Once you start receiving resumes, carefully review each one and shortlist candidates based on their qualification, experience, and suitability for the role. Look for relevant skills such as excellent verbal and written communication abilities, strong organizational skills, and a background in customer service. Prioritize resumes that demonstrate attention to detail and professionalism.
We recommend you sort resumes into three piles: No, Maybe, and Yes. Take a closer look at the Maybes, moving them into No or Yes. Then take a deeper dive into the Yes resumes.
For a more detailed explanation of how to approach this step, check out our guide to resume screening.
Step 5: Conduct Phone Interviews
Phone interviews provide an opportunity to assess a candidate’s suitability before moving forward with in-person interviews. Prepare a list of questions to ask candidates about their experience, skills, availability, and any specific scenarios they may have encountered in previous roles. Pay attention to their communication skills, professionalism, and enthusiasm for the position.
Can’t think of phone screen questions? Read our list of the top phone interview questions for ideas.
Step 6: Arrange In-person Interviews
Invite the most promising candidates for in-person interviews to further evaluate their fit for the role. Structure the interviews to cover different aspects of the position, including phone call management, visitor interaction, appointment scheduling, and problem-solving abilities. Consider involving relevant stakeholders, such as department heads or team members, and conduct a panel interview to gain different perspectives.
Here are some questions you may ask during the interview:
- Tell me about a time you had to manage an upset customer. How did you handle it?
- A person calls demanding to speak to someone who cannot talk at that time. What do you say? What if they insist?
- A customer complains to you about someone in the office. They ask you to keep it confidential. What do you do?
- How would you describe the ideal office atmosphere?
- Receptionists often have downtime when there are no immediate business needs or clients in the office. What do you do with that time?
- You are asked to transfer a call and accidentally hang up on the customer. What do you do?
During the interview, assess the candidate based on their communication skills, interpersonal abilities, problem-solving approach, and overall professionalism. Consider their compatibility with the company culture and their ability to represent your organization effectively.
Step 7: Conduct a Skills Assessment
Depending on the specific requirements of the receptionist role, you may want to conduct a skills assessment or practical test. This could involve tasks such as answering mock phone calls, managing appointments, or using specific software or tools.
The skills assessment may be part of the interview process or, if you have a number of promising candidates, a pre-interview skills assessment will enable you to weed out a few candidates before investing the time and energy to bring them in for an interview.
Step 8: Check References
After the interviews (and skills assessments if applicable), call the references provided by the shortlisted candidates. This will help gather more insights about their work ethic, reliability, and performance in previous roles. This step helps verify the information provided by the candidates and gain a better understanding of their strengths and weaknesses.
Here are some common reference check questions you can use.
Step 9: Make a Final Decision
Based on the interviews, skills assessments, and reference checks, evaluate each candidate’s performance and suitability for the role. Consider factors such as their qualifications, experience, cultural fit, and overall impression. Select the candidate who best meets your organizational needs.
Keep in mind it is also a best practice to communicate promptly with candidates who didn’t get selected for the role. You can send a rejection letter, depending on how far along in the process they got, or simply follow up in some way. Don’t leave them hanging.
Step 10: Make an Offer
After you’ve selected the candidate, contact them to make a job offer. You should clearly inform them of the terms of employment, including salary, benefits, work schedule, and other relevant details. Allow the candidate sufficient time to consider the offer and provide a response.
You can use our free offer letter template to ensure that you include all the relevant information.
Step 11: Onboard the New Receptionist
After the candidate accepts the offer, work with your HR department or relevant personnel to complete the necessary paperwork, arrange for training, and provide any resources or information needed for a smooth onboarding process. Introduce the receptionist to the team and familiarize them with their responsibilities, workspace, and any specific protocols or procedures.
Hiring a Receptionist Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
You should consider hiring a receptionist when your business or organization is receiving a high volume of incoming calls, emails, or visitors that require assistance or direction. A receptionist can help manage and prioritize these tasks, allowing you and your team to focus on other essential tasks.
When choosing between strong receptionist applicants, consider their experience, communication skills, customer service skills, and their ability to handle multiple tasks simultaneously. Additionally, consider whether their personality and work style align with your company culture and values.
There are several ways to find a receptionist, including posting job ads on online job boards such as LinkedIn, Indeed, and Glassdoor, as well as utilizing recruitment agencies or headhunters. Additionally, you can consider reaching out to local community colleges or technical schools that offer office administration programs as they may have graduates who are looking for entry-level receptionist roles.
A receptionist can make it easier for you to concentrate on your job without the interruption of greeting visitors or answering phones. Even more, they project your company’s culture to every customer they contact; with a friendly demeanor and efficient work ethic, they can make a great first impression that will result in goodwill and repeat customers.
There are plenty of ways to find a receptionist. Job boards are the most common and effective for both remote and in-person positions. We recommend ZipRecruiter. With a single click, you can post to 100+ job boards. Post your receptionist job ad for free today.