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How to Interview Someone for a Front Desk Position

by Felicia Greene, studioD

A qualified, confident front desk employee can set a positive tone for your company's customer interactions. Whether you operate a fitness center, medical office or law firm, your front desk associate is often the first point of contact for potential customers. Before interviewing front desk applicants, develop an interviewing strategy involving all your powers of observation.

Body Language Primer

An interview-savvy front desk applicant will steer the conversation to past job accomplishments and resume highlights. While these factors are important, the candidate's body language also holds value, as it subconsciously telegraphs the way she really feels about the position. A person who frequently initiates eye contact, emphasizes his points with hand gestures, and speaks enthusiastically about his contributions to the company is likely engaged in the conversation. In contrast, a candidate who keeps shifting in his chair, or who appears distracted or nervous, might lack confidence or be uninterested in the job.

Scenario Sampler

Narrowing down your candidate list might prove difficult, especially if you rely solely on applicants' resumes and cover letters to guide your decision. During the interview, consider role-playing a few likely front desk job scenarios. Evaluate each applicant's composure and responses to help you determine which candidates merit further consideration. Front desk role-playing scenarios might include juggling an influx of calls while you try to complete a time-critical assignment, handling a difficult telephone customer while greeting multiple visitors, or business-specific situations that will challenge even the best front desk professional.

Trial by Fire

After the interview, consider letting candidates take a trial run at the front desk so you can see how each person responds to the position's real-life demands. For example, an hour-long trial at a very busy switchboard will help you determine if a candidate remains unflappable under fast-paced, stressful conditions. Similarly, observing a car dealership front desk candidate during a busy time of the day will show whether the applicant has the ideal combination of people skills and efficiency that will help break the ice with potential buyers. Before you schedule these on-the-job trials, consult applicable laws and/or company policies regarding compensation for these hours worked.

For the Job Candidate

Preparing for a front desk position interview requires a multifaceted approach. Research the company's website for information about its mission, accomplishments and growth plans so you can speak knowledgeably about the company and position. Practice concise, polished responses to common interview questions, preferably with a trusted colleague who will provide objective feedback. During the interview, ask well-structured questions about front desk duties and express a desire to support the company's continued growth through your excellent job performance.

About the Author

Based in North Carolina, Felicia Greene has written professionally since 1986. Greene edited sailing-related newsletters and designed marketing programs for the New Bern, N.C. "Sun Journal" and New Bern Habitat ReStore. She earned a Bachelor of Science in business administration from the University of Baltimore.

Photo Credits

  • Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images