Job search FAQs
Frequently asked questions about Receptionist jobs
As a receptionist, you’ll perform a variety of administrative tasks to help the organization operate smoothly. This includes answering and transferring calls, obtaining or sending documents, copying, filing and maintaining documents and records, keeping appointment calendars, scheduling appointments, meetings or travel, and more.
Receptionists are also seen as the “face” of the organization because they are often the first person a customer or client sees or talks to when they contact or visit the company. You’re typically asked to greet customers, provide directions or escort them to their destinations, and answer questions.
Some tasks may also vary depending on where you work. For example, a receptionist in a hospital or doctor’s office may have some different duties than one who works in a corporate headquarters building.
Most entry-level receptionist positions need at least a high school diploma or GED. Other positions may require an associate or bachelor’s degree in a field such as business, administrative studies, communications, or a related field.
Training or certificates earned at community colleges or online may also be accepted instead of post-secondary education.
Many receptionists receive the training they need after they are hired for the job, including onboarding to company policies and procedures, software or equipment, and specific duties to be performed.
If you want to gain experience before applying, consider volunteering or interning in an office setting to learn office etiquette, develop your skills, and understand standard receptionist responsibilities.
Once you have the appropriate education or certifications and some relevant work experience, it’s time to prepare your resume and apply to entry-level receptionist positions.
Requirements for a receptionist role can vary by company, but many require the same basic things like:
High school diploma or equivalent
Associate’s or bachelor’s degree in a related field
Excellent written and verbal communication skills
Experience with administrative policies and procedures
Strong organization and time management skills
Proficiency in software applications such as Microsoft Word, Excel, and Outlook
The company may ask for experience in performing specific tasks that are related to the industry. Again, working at a corporate headquarters as a receptionist may have slightly different requirements than a role with a hospital.
Also, keep in mind when it comes to educational requirements, it can depend on the industry and company you’re applying with. Some organizations will accept certifications or other formal training instead of a degree in a relevant field.
The job description should clearly outline requirements, but if you have questions, ask the hiring manager.
Interview questions vary, but you can expect a mix of general questions, ones about your background and experience, and in-depth or job-specific queries.
Knowing what types of questions may be asked, and preparing answers ahead of time, can help you succeed in your interview:
Tell us about your related work experience.
What do you think are the most important qualities for a receptionist to have, and how do you display those qualities?
Tell us about a time when you had several tasks to complete under a deadline.
Tell us about a time when you had to work with an unsatisfied customer or client.
How do you value your role as a receptionist?
What are your computer/telecommunication/communication skills like?
There are several qualities and skills a good receptionist will have to be successful in their role. Some of the best qualities or traits include:
Strong attention to detail
Friendly and polite
Able to empathize with others
Able to work under pressure
Good listening skills
Excellent communication skills
Ability to multitask well
A receptionist’s skills should focus on technology, communication, and people skills. These can include:
Phone skills and etiquette
Communication, including written, verbal and non-verbal
Adherence to policies and procedures
Knowledge of the company/organization
If you choose, there are some career advancement opportunities for a receptionist. For example, other opportunities within the organization may arise supporting internal operations and employees.
Because of the experience working in fast-paced environments and closely with customers, some receptionists can go on to work in sales or customer service roles.
Another career advancement opportunity comes in the form of office manager positions since receptionists often are intimately familiar with office policies, schedules, and the front desk.
If you work in a corporate or office environment, your hours will likely be the standard 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. with a break for lunch, Monday through Friday.
However, depending on the industry, you may have to work evenings, nights, or weekends. For example, if you work at a hospital, you may work the overnight shift to help patients or visitors who need assistance during those hours.
Most receptionists work in an office, lobby, waiting room, or similar setting. Regardless of the industry, you’re in, most receptionists spend their day sitting at a desk. If you greet customers or visitors, your space will likely be highly visible, highly trafficked, clean, and quiet.
You’ll be asked to use computers, printers, fax machines, and phones, so you’ll have access to all of that equipment at your desk or in your office space.