An excellent front desk receptionist can contribute to the success of your business. It’s vital to consider their abilities, personality, and loyalty to your company. These are important to have a fantastic front desk that lasts. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself going from receptionist to receptionist while struggling to have a front desk that delivers a consistent customer experience.
Thus, you must take the necessary steps to ensure that you hire the right person. Here’s how.
Define your receptionist’s role
Before you even put up a job listing for a receptionist, you need to define what their roles and responsibilities will be.
It’s best to create a rubric that is tailored to your company so you can have a clear perspective of what you’re looking for in your future receptionist. You can design your rubric on the following criteria:
- Areas of responsibility: Greeting visitors, answering phone calls, writing emails, monitoring and/or updating the company database
- Technical expertise: Microsoft Office, messaging applications, and other programs
- Soft skills: Critical thinking, initiative, problem solving, communication, interpersonal skills
Ideally, you want to shape your rubric around the culture of your company. This allows you to see more clearly which applicants are truly compatible. Here are some guide questions to help your assessment:
- Does your company have a highly competitive working environment?
- Does your company go on occasional team building activities or have events that establish camaraderie?
- What explicitly and implicitly gets rewarded (and punished)?
You should then have the job description reviewed and refined by the team of people that they will be working with. Once finalized, you should place the job posting on job boards like:
- Indeed – Simple, convenient, and robust platform for jobseekers, and is also one of the most commonly used job sites
- LinkedIn – Lets applicants learn more about your company and even interact with you or your recruiter directly
- Glassdoor – Provides jobseekers with reviews about your company which may encourage them to apply
Conduct a robust screening process
A robust interview process allows you to gain as much information and insight as possible from each candidate, while they also learn about you and your company. Ideally, there should be 2-3 interviews, each with a specific purpose and set of metrics that it measures.
This is where you first get to screen the candidate and discuss their qualifications. Ideally, you’ll want the initial interview to last 10-15 minutes so you can interview multiple candidates efficiently. The same one to two internal employees should interview each applicant so that candidates are compared to one another.
Their resume is a great starting point for the discussion. You should ask basic questions to learn more about their experiences, skills, and interests:
- What they did in their previous work
- Why they left those jobs
- What skills they possess and how they can help
- Why they’re interested in the position you’re offering
A major factor in a successful front desk is how well they can make a good first impression of your company in a brief time window. Thus, the first impressions that you have of the candidate reflect how well they’ll represent your business. While you should usually avoid initial interview bias to cloud your judgment, initial impressions are an important aspect of this role.
What an interview can’t show about a candidate is how well they’ll actually perform. To know if they’re really up to the task, develop short tests that will measure specific skills.
Here are some effective ways you can test a candidate:
- Mock calls – These calls evaluate multiple skills like communication, decision making, problem solving, and working under pressure.
- Mock check-ins – This test allows you to see how a candidate evaluates themselves in terms of body language (e.g. postures, gestures, facial expressions) and verbal expression (e.g. tone of voice, speech rate, fluency). It also shows you a glimpse of how they’ll work in the field.
- Timed tests – These are helpful if you want to know the speed and quality of a candidate’s work with administrative tasks. In particular, you can evaluate their ability to write emails and communicate concerns within the company.
The benefit of these tests is that they give you an objective metric to compare applicants and remove any biases that you developed during the interview.
The second interview serves as a complement to the skill assessment. You’ll focus more on the specific aspects of the job and ask them how they’ll respond to certain situations during work.
This allows you to gauge their adaptability and problem-solving skills, which are vital in front desk work. For example, you can ask them how they react to the following situations:
- Vague or suspicious emails
- Impatient guests
- Computer crashing during work
- Finicky phone call where the other side is choppy or unclear
You should assign their potential supervisor or manager to conduct this interview, as they have hands-on experience in front desk operations.
The final interview puts the spotlight on the candidate’s cultural fit. While fit should be a part of every step of the process, this last interview is where you pressure tests their values and behaviors. They may have proven their expertise at this point, but it should be their compatibility with the company that has the last say on whether you will hire them.
Asking them to share experiences about successes and struggles will uncover their values, and help you determine their fit. For example:
- In what team settings have you thrived versus where you struggled; and why?
- What are you most proud of (in your career or personal life) and why?
- Can you share an example of a time you were motivated to work harder; and a time you were demotivated?
It is best to have someone in a supervisory or lead role (e.g. the front office manager or CEO, depending on the size of the company) conduct this interview.
Choose the best candidate
At this point, you have all of the information you need to make the big decision. You, and everyone involved in the interview process, should be constantly updating the scoring rubric. Your selection should come from a combination of quantitative and qualitative feedback from the team.
As a final step, asking for referrals from the candidates will give you one last perspective into their potential fit and answer any lingering questions.
Have the receptionist stay
The hiring process may have ended, but keeping the receptionist in your company is another story.
More often than not, engagement is an active affair. While the selection process is like putting together a jigsaw puzzle, keeping the puzzle as it is for a long time requires constant effort on your part.
Keeping your new receptionist involves giving them reasons for staying. Giving opportunities for career advancement via training and promotions, as well as establishing a foundation of trust and teamwork.
This way, you’ll hire an excellent receptionist who will want to stay and contribute to the success of your business in the long run.
Picking the perfect receptionist for your company can be a deceptively grueling process. Once you’ve found an all-star, you will wish to clone them and have them greet your visitors across all of your locations. Consider using a virtual front desk provider to allow your best receptionists to cover multiple locations, and take away the hassle of constant hiring.