As any HR manager or recruiter will tell you, hiring for specialized roles can be extremely difficult, costly and time consuming. Finding candidates with the exact work experience, subject matter expertise and technical abilities you need can take months, especially if you don't have the right recruitment tools and processes in place. What's less talked about, however, is the challenge of filling positions that have a high degree of cross-industry appeal. For example, receptionists serve similar functions in a range of business settings, from enterprise offices to healthcare facilities and beyond.
Considering the demand for these professionals is expected to grow by 9% between 2016 and 2026, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, it makes sense that employers across the commercial spectrum have started to ramp up their recruitment efforts. Knowing what to look for in an applicant is half the battle, so let's quickly recap some of the core competencies employers should prioritize in their next receptionist.
Key qualities of a talented receptionist
First and foremost, every employer has different needs and expectations when it comes to hiring a receptionist. Working at a traditional office may require close collaboration with different departments and clientele, whereas a manufacturing company might prefer candidates with extensive back-end administration experience. Generally speaking, onboarding the perfect receptionist starts with an assessment of the specific tasks and responsibilities you need them to perform. That said, the staffing experts at Robert Half International highlight six traits every employer should prioritize during the application and interview stages:
1. Communication skills: While this may seem obvious, receptionists must be able to effectively communicate with a diverse range of stakeholders, both through verbal and digital channels. In many cases, receptionists are asked to take on customer service responsibilities and other internal administrative tasks that may require a bit of finesse.
2. Professionalism: Receptionists often act as the primary point of contact for customers, colleagues and third-party associates, making a high degree of professionalism essential. Recruiting applicants who are patient and reserved can not only help with internal and external relationship building, it may also keep your work environment conflict-free.
3. Interpersonal abilities: Collaboration is a key quality for receptionists, as it allows them to work effectively with a number of different personality types. While soft skills can be difficult to gauge in the early stage of the recruitment process, an in-personal interview can tell you a lot about a candidate's general attitude and propensity for interpersonal connections.
4. Multitasking capabilities: As mentioned above, receptionists are often expected to take on a variety of day-to-day duties, from administrative paperwork to data entry tasks. As such, the ability to juggle low-priority and urgent responsibilities is crucial to their continued success; it's also an indicator that they can perform in fast-paced, high-stress scenarios.
5. Organization: Keeping physical and digital environments free of clutter is a chief preoccupation of today's receptionists, which is why strong organization skills should be at the top of your list. Professionals in this role must be able to locate specific information in a pinch, such as client phone numbers, executive schedules and important financial records. Asking candidates to explain their ideal filing system is one simple way to cross-reference their credentials during the interview stage, according to the Houston Chronicle.
6. Tech-savviness: In the modern digital world, technology skills are pivotal to the work receptionists perform. That's why it's important to locate candidates who are comfortable with word processing programs, phone systems, web applications and in-office equipment. Although any applicant can list these competencies on their resume, a quick computer skills test can reveal a lot about their level of experience.
When it comes to hiring a talented receptionist, the best approach is to dedicate enough time to fully understand your needs. Since receptionists often fill intermediary roles in professional environments, making a hasty decision could have far-reaching (and unforeseen) consequences for your company.