6 Qualities to Look for in a Good Receptionist

Last updated November 17, 2020 written by Tetiana

It’s important to know the vital qualities of a receptionist. No matter what type of business you run, your receptionist plays a significant role in your company because they set the tone for your customer service and provide the first impression for your business.

And as we’ve said before, great customer service is key to making more sales, getting more referrals and a whole host of other important things.

You’ve probably heard a friend or family member talk about a disappointing experience with a rude, negative or generally unhelpful receptionist. Word travels fast and you are trusting your receptionist with your business reputation.

So, what are the qualities of a good receptionist? When you recruit a receptionist, what should you be on the lookout for? That’s what we’ll talk about today!

6 Qualities to Look for in a Good Receptionist


A person’s attitude will always shine through. So, it’s crucial that your receptionist has a positive one. This will affect how they respond to different situations—good, stressful and everything in between.

A positive attitude is not just something that will rub off on your customers, it is something that other staff members will absorb. Positivity is a leadership trait and it’s also something to look for in a good receptionist.

So, what are signs of a positive attitude? See if the candidate:

  • Has stayed in positions for longer than four years and hasn’t had more than three jobs in a 5-year period.
  • Talks positively about past jobs and employers. If you are interviewing someone and they start to talk about times when they were let down, it is a sign that they might not tend to look at the best in certain situations.
  • Are willing to take responsibility and refrain from blaming other people.
  • Talks about things that they are passionate about, both within their career and in their personal life. If your recruitment process allows people to talk about their passions during an interview, then this is a good way to gauge if you have a positive applicant.

When interviewing potential receptionists, ask questions that reveal more about their outlook and personality as well as their previous experience and skills. This way, you’ll have a better idea of their attitude. A lot of people opt for longer interview processes to try and extract details about this sort of personality trait, and find out if a candidate has the right receptionist qualities.


Organizational skills are vital for almost any business. Your receptionist needs to be able to develop processes on the fly in order to stay on track and focused. That way, they’re prepared for the unexpected, which often happens in a crazy business environment.

They should also be able to keep files, phone numbers and their work area organized, so they don’t lose important documents. This is vital. Some people are terrible at staying organized, but you need certain people within the business who can be responsible for this. Financial records and customer data are not things to mess around with and often these are the things that your receptionist is dealing with on a daily basis.

So, how can you tell if a receptionist candidate is organized? Just like other qualities of a good receptionist, a test of organization is something else you can build into recruitment. You can start by asking how they prefer to set up calendars and contacts.

All of our virtual assistants are trained to high standards and boast brilliant organization skills, as well as the ability to book appointments and integrate with your own CRM. They know how to help keep everything in your business safe and secure.


Multi-tasking isn’t exactly the greatest thing for focus, especially on very creative jobs. However, the ability to multi-task is essential for receptionists.

They will undoubtedly have to handle multiple tasks at a time. It’s simply the way the job works.

One minute they may be working on a spreadsheet and the next, they may be answering a phone call or taking a message. We train all of our virtual assistants to deal with multiple tasks at the same time, so they are able to handle tough situations that are thrown at them.

They must be able to do this with poise, even amidst stressful situations.

So, how can you tell if a receptionist candidate is poised and has the ability to multi-task?

  • Ask how they’ve handled a stressful situation in their previous workplace
  • Assess whether or not they can stay calm under pressure


A good receptionist is proficient with basic technology. They know their way around a spreadsheet as well as industry-specific software.

They can update your social media if needed and create documents in Microsoft Word. Also, they will easily make call transfers, use fax machines and copiers, and handle a complicated phone system. A receptionist’s role is often varied and they need to learn fast. It shouldn’t take five hours to teach them how to use a new piece of simple software. People who are tech-savvy tend to pick this sort of thing up fairly quickly.

How can you tell if your receptionist candidate is tech-savvy?

  • Ask what tasks they’ve handled in previous jobs
  • Ask what technical software they’re familiar with
  • Ask about a time they’ve had to get familiar with the new software quickly


Within the workplace, emotional intelligence is vital. Emotionally intelligent people have empathy, can handle their own emotions and can manage the emotions of other people. All of these skills are key to being a good receptionist.

When a receptionist needs to answer telephone calls, the person on the other line won’t always be happy—and a receptionist needs to understand how to handle that situation.

If they have low emotional intelligence and poor communication skills, they may get offended easily, lose their cool and/or leave the caller feeling angry or frustrated.

But if they have high emotional intelligence, you’ll see the opposite effect. They will greet people in a friendly way and try to build a rapport with either new clients or existing customers.

Here’s what you need to ask your receptionist candidate to see if they have high emotional intelligence:

  • Their biggest weaknesses (this will show their self-awareness)
  • How they would handle a particular situation involving other people
  • How they handled a problematic caller in the past


This ties in closely with many of the other important qualities of a receptionist. As it is such a vital cog in any business, if the receptionist is not dependable it can cause chaos. Dependability for a receptionist can come in the form of being trustworthy, always being available to answer calls rather than being late back from lunch, and returning those calls in a prompt manner.

Consistency is a similar concept. For a receptionist, following the same process to keep accurate records and communicate the messages to everyone can be invaluable. It keeps everything ticking along in the business as you can avoid issues around mixed messages and confusion, or customers getting left by the wayside. The right receptionist will ensure this consistency is in place throughout the office, and the systems you have put in place are implemented properly every time. 

Knowing that you can depend on someone is vital, but it’s not easy to do. You may need time for a receptionist to familiarize themselves with your business before you learn whether they are consistent and dependable. When reviewing resumes, long spells at other businesses are a good sign that you can count on someone.


Your receptionist is often the “first point of contact” prospects and customers have with your business. When your receptionist has these qualities, you’ll make a great first impression and set a positive tone.

Don’t want to let your calls go to voicemail and need help finding a receptionist with these qualities? Our virtual receptionists have all of them and more. They are fully trained to adapt to your business and provide a polite, friendly and positive service, as well as keeping your business organized. Check them out if you haven’t already!

If you are recruiting a receptionist, then you will probably have some questions already in mind specific to the business you run. So, looking at a guide like this one by Indeed can allow you to brainstorm important questions to ask your potential staff. Questions about their previous employment and their outlook on the role of a receptionist, can give you good insight.

Remember, you are looking to learn more about both the skills of any prospective receptionists and their personality. Do they have people skills and thrive on communication? That’s the important question.


How Can You Recruit The Best Receptionists?

The process of recruitment for a receptionist can be difficult. How do you ensure you are recruiting the right employee? During the process of interviewing, it is vital to consider the universal skills needed for a receptionist, but also any industry-specific training that might be helpful.

If you are in the medical industry, for example, it is very helpful to recruit someone with a history in this field. Even if another candidate has a lot of the qualities you are looking for, this might be trumped by medical knowledge and familiarity with the terms, and operational standards of the industry.

During the interview process, you may have a chance to delve deeper. Ask the candidate about specific scenarios they might face in your business to get an idea of how they can think on their feet, or whether they are even the right fit.

What Interview Questions Should I Ask?

If you are recruiting a receptionist then you will probably have some questions already in mind specific to the business you run. However, looking at a guide like this one by Indeed can allow you to brainstorm important questions to ask your potential staff. Questions about their previous employment, and their outlook on the role of a receptionist, can give you an insight.

Remember, you are looking to learn more about both the skills of any prospective receptionists, but also their personality. Do they have people skills and thrive on communication?

Should I Hire a Virtual Receptionist Instead of a Full-Time Employee?

If the job of your receptionist is often to answer calls, book appointments, and keep things within your business organized, you may not need them to be based within a physical location. In these cases, a virtual receptionist with full training can be beneficial. It also means you don’t have to worry about paid holiday, health insurance and some of the other difficult aspects of employing someone.

A virtual receptionist can also allow you to keep long operating hours or even provide a 24-hour answering service within the healthcare industry, for example, where emergencies can occur around the clock.

How Does Nexa Ensure Their Receptionists Are Up to Standard?

Nexa’s recruitment takes a lot of the difficulty of finding someone of the right standard out of your hands. Our staff is made up of motivated, organized and positive individuals who aren’t afraid to work hard and tackle the everyday challenges of various industries. 

Knowing how to be a good receptionist is not always simple and our staff is fully-trained, often with industry-specific knowledge. Our receptionists are hand-picked and go through rigorous and thorough training, so you can be assured that a Nexa virtual receptionist is not just a good financial option, but a good business decision, too. Our staff specializes in legal, real estate, home services, professional services, insurance and franchises, but can also turn their hand to a number of other businesses. We work with you to create a script that is suitable for call handling within your business.

Nexa also has an assurance process, which allows the receptionists working with us to “level-up” as they gain experience. All calls are scored as 1-3 on a robust feedback system, which means continual improvement and understanding of customers’ needs.

How Important Is a Receptionist?

Many businesses underestimate just how important a receptionist can be. Receptionists are key to your customer experience and engagement, and key to the organization of your business. A receptionist being either incompetent or rude can have hugely negative implications for your organization and ultimately lose customers. 

Some people describe the receptionist as the most important part of an office environment. This is a matter of opinion, but they are undeniably the first point-of-contact. Making a good impression and giving competent service to your customers is a baseline expectation.