Receptionist is a popular job all around the world. You will typically compete with other people for the job, and you will have to convince the hiring managers that you are the best candidate. How can you do it?

The key is to demonstrate the value you can bring to their team of receptionists. The right attitude you show in your interview, and good answers to their questions, will help you to convince them of this value. Let’s have a look at some questions they will ask you, and how you should answer each question.


Why did you decide to apply for a job of a receptionist in our hotel (company)?

Honest compliment is your best bet in this case. You can tell them that you like the hotel chain (if it is a chain, or that you like their company, if you apply for an office receptionist job).

You can also say that you like the atmosphere in the place. And if it is a bad place, but you still need a job there (a common situation indeed, and not a tragic one, because you can be the one who makes their place a better one), you can simply say that you like the location of the place (it is close to your apartment), or the shift patterns and working routine fits your other obligations.

Try to be specific. Check the company website and find something you can praise them for. They should have a feeling that you want to work specifically for them, that you did not apply for a job with them by a chance.

* Do not forget to check also: Receptionist interview – Tell me about yourself.


What are your goals in five years from now?

Job of a receptionist does not offer many career growth options. You can become a lead receptionist (if you apply for a job in a big hotel), and you can perhaps join the team of managers, but honestly, it is not likely to happen.

Therefore you should focus on other things than your promotion. You can say that you would simply like to become a better receptionist in five years from now, or you can focus on the goals you have in your personal life.

One way or another, you should mention some goals, because every responsible person has them. The only exception is when you follow a philosophy of living in a present moment, and do not think about the future at all…

Happy people shake hands in the business office. It is an applicant for a receptionist position, and she shake the hand with the recruiter from the agency.


What characterize a good receptionist?

Good receptionist should be nice and talkative, she should have some charisma, she should have a positive outlook of life. They should strive to provide the best possible customer service to each guest they meet in their job.

Alternatively you can focus on the results of work in your answer, saying that you can tell a good receptionist by the number of guests who leave positive reviews of the hotel (company) online, or by the number of guests who return to the place again, just because they were satisfied with the staff members.


Why should people choose our hotel, and not one of the competitors?

Visit the website of the hotel, check the reviews on, and on other popular websites (Trip Advisor, Expedia, Trivago, etc). Or, even better (but only if you can afford it, and if you do not interview for a job in ten different hotels), spend a night at the place before you interview for a job with them.

This experience will help you to understand why people choose them, or why they should choose them (good location, wonderful people, clean rooms, great variety on breakfast, wellness included, you name it :)).

* Do not forget to check also: Why do you want to work as a receptionist? – 7 sample answers.


What languages do you speak?

Mention all languages, even if you are just starting to learn one of them. To know how to greet the visitor, how to book the room for them in their language, or how to give them basic instructions about the place and the surrounding area, would suffice for most receptionist jobs.

You can also say that you are learning a new language (or even just planning to learn one). Try to show the hiring managers that you always strive to become a better receptionist, that you do your best for the guests.


Why should we hire you, and not one of the other people who apply for the same job?

This is a difficult question for everyone. You can either try to find something that distinguishes you from the rest of the pack (it can be your excellent social skills, your vast experience with similar jobs, some personal traits that make you unique as an employee, your special attitude to job and other people, etc), or you can simply name some skills that make you a good receptionist (check the third question on this page).

Alternatively you can bet on humility–a risky approach that can pay off. In this case, you will say that you did not meet the other job applicants, and can not tell whether they are better or worse than you. You can even show your positive outlook of life and other people in your answer, saying that you believe that other applicants are great people, and that you leave the task of comparing you, and them, to the hiring managers… You can check 7 sample answers to this particular question here.

A typical scene from the interviews. Two older HR experts sit opposite a young man, who tries to get an office job in their company.

What are your salary expectations?

Check the average salary for receptionist in your city/country. Just google it, there are statistics for each country, and for each job. and are some of the websites that offer the numbers.

If you apply for a position of a hotel receptionist, however, there typically won’t be much room for salary negotiation in your interview. Most big hotels pay the same salary for every new hire, every new receptionist. The employee fluctuation is quite high in this industry, and they will raise your salary once you stay with them for a couple of months at least. In this case you can say that salary is not the deciding factor for you, and that you will accept the same salary they offer to every new hire.


What are your weaknesses?

Everyone of us has some strengths, and some weaknesses. The key is to pick a weakness that is not central for the job, one that would not jeopardize your chances in this interview. Obviously you should not say that you have weak communication skills… On the other hand, to be over-friendly to guests, passionate about the job, or perhaps over-punctual, are good answers, since many employers would not consider them your weaknesses at all.

But if you want to talk about real weaknesses, you can go with something like bad management skills, or computer skills. You will not manage anyone in your job (except of yourself), so the level of your management skills isn’t really important for the interviewers. And while you will work with computer software, this software is not difficult to handle, and you will get a training before you start the job. Therefor your average (or even below-average) computer skills do not matter much for the interviewers either (or at least they should not matter for them).

On the top of that, you can say that you try to improve on your weaknesses (attending evening computer classes, getting feedback on your work and trying to rid of your weaknesses, etc), to show them your great attitude to yourself, and your personal development.

Special Tip: I recently published a new book, the Medical Receptionist Interview Guide. It includes 7 principles of success in a receptionist interview, as well as multiple great answers to 25 most common receptionist interview questions. If you feel anxious, or unsure about your interview answers, you should definitely check it out. It will help you greatly in an interview for any receptionist position (legal, school, medical, hotel, etc).


Do you have any questions?

It is good to ask one or two questions at the end of your interview–if you get a chance to ask them. You can inquire about the next step of recruitment process (second interview, final interview, etc), or about the job itself (the structure of the working shifts, working patterns at the place, where the receptionists sleep, if they can stay in the hotel when not on the shift, etc).

Asking a question shows them that you care, that you want to know more, that you are interested to work for them, after everything that has been said and done in an interview. Therefor you should always ask some questions–if you get the chance…

May also interest you:

* You can also download the list of questions (without answers) in a one-page long PDF document, and practice your interview answers anytime later:

Matthew Chulaw
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