Receptionist skills

 4 Minute Read

As a well-known commercial recruitment organisation with 25 years’ experience, we are often asked, by clients and candidates alike, what the key skills are for the many different positions available in the commercial sector.

Over the next couple of months, we will share a breakdown of ideal qualities and skills for each different role based on what the needs are in the changing commercial environment of today.


First Role-An Important Position for Each Organisation-Your Receptionist.

As we have recently run our 'Receptionist of The Year' Award in progress for both Leeds and Manchester businesses, the ‘all important' receptionist role is our first of the series.


Let’s Start with The Basic Ideal Character Traits

You Are the Brand

Before we start, something important to highlight.

This might sound strange and it is imperative that you are ‘excited and enthusiastic’ about joining the company in question. Why? Because you are likely to be the first connection that a potential client, service provider or new employee has with your company.

You are the face of your organisation.

If you meet and greet people regularly, you will need to ensure you look the part. People do ‘judge a book by its cover’, and a warm, friendly presentable person makes an impression.


Empathy, Understanding and Rapport

Great interpersonal skills are vital for a stellar receptionist and go way beyond being a great communicator.

The dictionary definition of rapport is, “a state of harmonious understanding with another individual or group that enables greater and easier communication”.

In other words, rapport is getting on well with another person. Rapport can be built quickly by:

  • Using the person’s name several times during your initial interaction. People love their name being used, no matter if it’s their christian or surname.
  • Always give good eye contact when speaking.
  • Finding common ground and being empathetic to another human being.
  • Giving a simple compliment.

Who hasn’t commented positively about an organisation after that first interaction with the lovely person behind the front desk? Unfortunately, the opposite can also be true!

Empathy and understanding go hand in hand, and people who embody these traits normally stick in your mind. Empathetic people can put themselves in your shoes, and this helps them know how to respond in multiple situations.

Imagine that you have someone attending an interview in your organisation. Their train was late, they slipped on something outside and fell over. They are now dishevelled and to top it all, they are late for their interview in an organisation they would dearly love to work for.

A great receptionist will be able to calm them down and get them relaxed and ready for their interview. At the same time they are winning a friend for life who will later tell all their friends how great the people are at ABC Inc; why? Because of the first impression they had, courtesy of an amazingly human receptionist.



Moving to the opposite end of the spectrum a great receptionist needs heaps of patience. Some human beings lack Emotional Intelligence and consequently can be rude and ungracious and to be quite frank a total pain in the neck!

This could manifest itself by being angry because the directions on the company website sent them off around the one-way system which lost them time and then to top it all your car park was full when they got there.

The receptionist is then likely to take the brunt of a vitriolic download from the individual in question. A good receptionist will take this in their stride and resolve the situation before the said individual comes across anyone else in the organisation.


Professionalism and Confidentiality

Though this ‘should’ be a given it's still worth mentioning. A receptionist will often see who comes and goes in an organisation. Sometimes this is confidential and discretion is expected.


The Super Skills

Planning and Organisation

Receptionists are often expected to multi-task and be super organised. Attention to detail and good planning skills are essential.

Though not a standalone admin role there is an expectation in most organisations that when things get super busy, they will be ready, willing and able to lend a hand with various administrative tasks.


Great communication skills

Excellent verbal communications skills are a must alongside listening and questioning abilities. All delivered with a smile and friendly manner.

It doesn’t always happen.

Last week I rang an organisation (not LWR related) and the receptionist spoke so fast I couldn’t understand half of what she said! After three attempts I finally got the information I wanted.
My impression of the company in question? Not great.

The ability to communicate information accurately, clearly and as intended, is a vital skill for a receptionist.

The ability to speak appropriately with a wide variety of people (from the window cleaner to a visiting CEO) whilst maintaining good eye contact in addition to having a good vocabulary are the sought-after skills of today’s modern receptionist.


Tech Savvy

Finally, sought after receptionists have embraced technology. Naturally, they will be great at utilising the phone system, software and CRM database as needed.

If the CEO likes to receive a What’s App message when someone arrives for their meeting, so be it. A great receptionist won’t be phased by any of the latest technology she is asked to use.


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About the Author: Lucy Walker

Lucy Walker is the founder and Managing Director at Lucy Walker Recruitment.Lucy has an extensive knowledge of the issues and workings of the West Yorkshire and Greater Manchester Commercial markets developed over 25 years in the profession