What Are the Most Important Receptionist Qualities?

K. Kinsella

A receptionist greets clients, answers phone calls, mails letters and emails, and carries out a wide variety of secretarial tasks. Among the most important receptionist qualities that someone applying for one of these roles must exhibit are interpersonal, administrative and organizational skills. Additionally, a receptionist should be adept at using basic word processing software and various types of office equipment.

A receptionist may be responsible for scheduling appointments.
A receptionist may be responsible for scheduling appointments.

Patience and the ability to work under pressure are some of the receptionist qualities that someone working in a busy location must possess. In many instances, receptionists are the first representatives of a company that outside clients get to meet. Therefore, people in these roles have to handle customer service problems. Additionally, while a receptionist can take messages or perform work on behalf of other people, no one diverts clients away from the person in this role and some people struggle to maintain high levels of customer service when faced with larger numbers of clients.

A receptionist should know how to efficiently use common office equipment.
A receptionist should know how to efficiently use common office equipment.

Aside from managing schedules, a receptionist may have to set appointments and keep track of messages, mail and emails on behalf of several other people. Therefore, good organizational skills are among the receptionist qualities that are of paramount importance. People employed in these roles often use daily checklists, diaries or calendars in order to keep track of information and tasks. Many successful receptionists manage their daily schedule so that complicated tasks are taken care of during slow times of the day while less complex issues are dealt with during busy periods.

Receptionists should be approachable and friendly.
Receptionists should be approachable and friendly.

Typically, people employed in administrative roles have to use email systems, internet websites and word processing packages. While some of these programs are commonly available and used by many businesses, others are in-house systems that have been tailored to the needs of a particular firm. The desired receptionist qualities as detailed in job postings often include technical ability and a willingness to learn how to use new systems and types of software.

Receptionists must be able to communicate effectively on the phone.
Receptionists must be able to communicate effectively on the phone.

A receptionist employed at a doctor's surgery or another kind of medical facility must be able to quickly gather potentially critically important information from physicians and patients and coherently pass that information onto other relevant parties. This individual must be able to communicate easily and clearly both over the telephone and in person. Errors made by receptionists can prove costly in many different industries, so an eye for detail and the ability to type or relay information efficiently without making mistakes can be essential receptionist qualities.

Receptionists have to know how to contact vendors to purchase office supplies.
Receptionists have to know how to contact vendors to purchase office supplies.

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Discussion Comments


@irontoenail - For one thing, all things are never going to be equal. Being a receptionist, particularly at a busy place, is not a piece of cake and not all people could do it.

Imagine being a receptionist at a hospital, for example. But even a busy office is challenging. Good looks are just not going to cut it by themselves.

It takes patience and intelligence and excellent people skills, not just a pretty face.


@Ana1234 - Well, to be honest I can see the point of looking at attractiveness as an important receptionist quality. I mean, they are essentially the face of the company. In some cases they might be the only person a customer is ever going to meet who works for the company. And many of the things they do are things that could be done by anyone, really.

So what makes the difference between a good receptionist and a great one? Attractiveness could certainly make a difference. Whether that's attractiveness in terms of manner, or attractiveness in terms of looks.

I mean, I don't think you should hire the good looking but incompetent candidate, but, all other things being equal, why wouldn't you hire the person who looks the nicest?


I read about a website recently that offers beautiful people a place to post their resumes so that companies looking for attractive people can hire them.

It's a quality that isn't often spoken about in terms of a job, unless it's something like modeling, but there are a lot of places that will only hire you if you happen to have won the genetic lottery.

And I imagine receptionists are often subjected to this kind of discrimination. It's not quite as bad as people wanting to hire a pretty secretary in order to get some "eye-candy" in the office, but almost as bad.

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