Eight Qualities and Skills to Look For in a Great Receptionist

Receptionist Working at the Office

A good receptionist can be hard to find. Demand for these administrative professionals extends to virtually every industry on the planet. From doctor’s offices to law firms and beyond, there are stellar receptionists behind successful businesses everywhere. Of course, hiring a quality administrative worker can be a challenge. Even the most talented receptionists won’t be a good fit for every workplace.

Receptionist skills vary from person to person. While it may be a challenge to find a candidate that fits your office’s every need, knowing what to look for in a receptionist can help make the hiring process easier. The next time you’re in the market for a new member of your administrative team, be on the lookout for these qualities:

Communication Skills

The typical duties of a receptionist will include answering phone calls, writing emails, taking memos, and greeting customers. It’s no surprise, then, that communication skills are some of the most important qualities of a receptionist. These professionals serve as the face of their organizations, welcoming visitors, greeting callers, and connecting folks with the right department or individual. They’re also tasked with answering questions, solving problems, and delivering on client expectations. It’s a tall order. Excellent communication skills make these duties easier to perform. Good communicators will also resolve issues faster and more effectively than those whose skills are lacking.

Receptionists should be, first and foremost, good listeners. Active listening is one of the most important receptionist skills. Experienced administrative workers will know when to listen instead of talk, when to ask questions instead of supplying answers, and when to wait instead of forging ahead. While it’s also important to be personable and professional during such conversations, active listening is perhaps the most important skill a receptionist should have.

Technical Expertise

Our world is changing quickly. Every month, it seems there is another new piece of technology to master, a new social media platform to learn, and new rules that coincide with it all. That’s why technical expertise is one of the skills needed for a receptionist. While your administrative staff don’t need degrees in computer science, they should keep up with changing technological trends and be ready to adapt.

As you interview possible candidates, consider the technical aspects of the job at present. While you might find it easy to juggle multiple incoming calls on your company’s phone system, a new employee may struggle at first. A tech-savvy candidate will learn the ropes much faster than someone with minimal experience. While there’s a learning curve with any new technology, it’s important to find someone who is excited by such opportunities. An open mind and a thirst for knowledge are definitely valuable receptionist skills.


When someone calls your company for the first time, your receptionist may be the first person from your organization that they speak with. It’s impossible to get a second chance at a first impression, so it’s important that your team represent your brand with each person they greet. Receptionists help craft customer experiences. If they’re not leading with professionalism, you risk alienating customers before you’ve even had the chance to win their business.

Professionalism is one of the most important qualities of a receptionist. Even on bad days, they should be polite, helpful, and respectful to both colleagues and clients. In handling disgruntled customers, a quality receptionist should maintain poised and calm. It’s no easy feat, especially when everything from their expression to their body language can reveal a person’s true feelings about a confrontation. In choosing the right candidate for your office, challenge interviewees on how they handle frustrating conversations. If they’re not prioritizing professionalism, they may not be a good fit for the position.


Just as technology is ever-changing, so too are the expectations of customers and colleagues. Receptionists work with a wide range of people to handle a variety of duties. Two days are rarely the same, so these professionals must work quickly to adapt. Receptionist skills lie in resilience; it’s okay not to know everything, but skilled professionals must know how to learn new procedures, policies, and how to implement them with fidelity.

Look no further than the COVID-19 pandemic as an example of the importance of adaptability. Virtually overnight, receptionists the world over learned to use video conferencing software, schedule virtual appointments for clients, and communicate with colleagues who were working from home. Nobody can predict the future, but a skilled receptionist is instrumental to your organization’s ability to weather the storm.


Promoting efficiency is one of the most important parts of managing a team. Whether you oversee a large organization or small team, it’s crucial to be firing on all cylinders. A receptionist can be your greatest ally in this goal. With their organization skills, your entire team can maximize their output without neglecting the customer experience. For instance, if you share documents with your colleagues, a well-organized receptionist can create a shared system the whole team can access. This cuts down the need for lengthy meetings and allows your staff to communicate more clearly.

Organization is indeed one of the most desirable characteristics of a good receptionist. The skill extends to almost every aspect of the job. From creating and keeping deadlines to delegation and goal setting, an organized receptionist can help keep everyone on track. As you search for a new receptionist, consider the mental and physical organizational skills the person will need most in the role. By being honest about your expectations, it’ll be easier to find a good fit.


The aforementioned receptionist skills are all incredibly important, but none are as valuable as patience. Someone can be the most organized, efficient, technically-inclined candidate, but if they don’t have patience and empathy to go along with those skills, they may struggle in the role of receptionist.

Every time the phone rings, there’s a new opportunity to earn the respect and business of a caller. Every time a customer walks through the door, there’s a chance to win them over as a lifelong fan. None of this is possible without patience. Patience is especially important as our nation’s demographics continue to shift. As the Baby Boomers age, the graying of America is in full effect. There’s a learning curve that comes with communicating with elderly people, but practicing patience can help ease the transition.


America’s population is aging. Our population is changing in other ways, too. Every year, our nation is growing more and more ethnically diverse. There are an estimated 43 million Spanish-speaking Americans – and counting. That’s not to mention the millions of other Americans who speak French, Tagalog, Vietnamese, Chinese, and dozens of other languages. While finding a polyglot receptionist might seem like a tall order, it’s becoming increasingly important for administrative workers to speak at least two languages.

A bilingual receptionist can set your business apart from the competition. You’ll reach a larger customer base while providing more comprehensive service to your existing client list. A multilingual receptionist can also ensure accuracy when scheduling appointments for callers. Instead of relying on translation apps or rough guesses, you’ll understand your customers clearly and completely. Receptionist skills don’t get more valuable than this!


You can hire the most skilled receptionist in the world, but if they don’t show up for work regularly, you might as well not have hired them at all. Dependability is one of the most important traits of a good receptionist. It’s what keeps offices around the world running smoothly each day.

Unfortunately, many employers can’t know if a candidate will be reliable until after they’ve hired them for the position. While nightmare scenarios do exist where employers have to start all over again after just a few months with a new-hire, reliable receptionists are out there. However, even the most reliable receptionists will call out sick every once in a while or need a few vacation days. Even covering their lunch breaks and figuring out what to do with after hours phone calls presents another set of challenges. This all too common experience has led many employers to partner with a virtual receptionist service instead.

Try MAP Today

Our clients know the value of a quality receptionist. That’s why they turn to MAP, a leading provider of live receptionist services for more than 30 years. Look no further than our testimonials section for client reviews and success stories. When it comes to receptionist skills, our team can’t be beat.

Skip the hassle of hiring an in-house receptionist and partner with MAP instead. We’ll work with your existing staff to provide a seamless transition for your callers. Since we’re available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, you’ll extend your availability while only paying for the calls we actively take on your behalf. Since we have bilingual employees on staff, you’ll also ensure clear, open communication with callers of all backgrounds.

Don’t take our word for it, though. Try MAP today for free. We’re offering a free week-long trial of our professional receptionist service. Click here to sign up!

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