Hiring the right person is tough: experience is important, but so is the right personality. This is especially true with a receptionist, who is often the first person your customers interact with on the phone or when they walk in. Here are a few things you should keep in mind when hiring for the front desk:
Define the job.
Before anything else, decide what the scope of the new hire’s responsibilities will be and communicate it clearly in the job posting and interviews. The skills you’re looking for depend a lot on what duties the job includes. For example, if the receptionist will be in charge of all appointment-booking tasks, you need someone who is well organized and detail oriented, with excellent communication skills. The last thing you want is a receptionist who forgets to tell you about appointment changes.
First impressions count.
How someone is greeted on the phone or in person is a reflection of your business. Your first impression of the potential hire may be your clients’ as well, so listen to your gut on whether it’s a good fit. This also means wardrobe and hygiene matter more than they do for your other new hires.
Personality rubs off.
Remember that customers may project the receptionist’s personality onto your business. Yes, you want someone who is friendly, but too bubbly and energetic could make it hard for customers to take your business seriously. If too eager to please, the candidate may come across as a pushover and unable to refuse difficult scheduling requests. Think about how you want to be represented.
Find someone who expects the unexpected.
Perhaps more than any other role, the receptionist deals with unexpected situations. Calls from upset customers, uncommon requests, and strange questions could all be frequent elements in the work week — a receptionist needs to be able to think fast and maintain composure. It’s a good idea to think of some surprising, situational interview questions so you can see how candidates respond when put on the spot.
Good communication is key.
As the most client-facing member of your team, your receptionist’s communication skills are key. Vocal clarity is a must for answering frequent phone calls, as well as the ability to concisely explain complex services, procedures, or guidelines. Good communication also means updating your team and keeping everyone aware of changes in the schedule or to appointments.
Create a positive environment.
Attracting new hires and keeping them means providing a great work environment. Compensation plays a big role in this, too. Find out what the typical wages are for receptionists in your area and consider paying more to attract — and keep — the best. You can create a positive environment by treating your receptionist with respect, not giving sudden deadlines, and voicing your appreciation. Again, your receptionist will be the first point of contact for your clients and partners. The happier your receptionist is, the better the impression people will have of you.
Once you’ve found the right person, remember that you still have influence over how well and how willing your new hire is to do the job. Your encouragement and feedback can have a positive effect on the way your receptionist treats your clients and therefore represents your business.