The front desk plays a critical role in the success of any business, but especially for hotels. Front desk interview questions are unique. Hiring managers ask them to ensure the new hire is the right person with the right skills for this challenging job.
Here are 50 of the most common front desk and receptionist interview questions and a sample answer for each.
50 Example Questions and Answers
#1. Tell me about yourself. Why do you want this receptionist position?
Important Points to Address: Essential for all questions in this role, ensure you have good body language, be confident and have a positive attitude, dress well, and smile, as these are expected qualities of all front desk staff.
I am an experienced customer service professional who understands the importance of a receptionist to a company. I am looking for a role that will utilize my customer service skills, organizational skills, and communication skills to deliver value for the company and provide clients with superior service.
This is a great opportunity to develop my skills and build on my professional experience to pursue more senior positions with the company.
#2. What are the most important skills and qualities needed in a front office or receptionist role?
Important Points to Address: It is a good idea to provide at least three skills that were listed in the job description for the advertised position.
As the face of the company, the most important skill is to have excellent interpersonal skills as you deal with a lot of people. Second, you need good organization skills as a front desk role is a fast-paced environment that requires managing the daily schedule of yourself, customers, guests, and service and maintenance staff, among others.
In addition, good computer skills with a high typing speed, the willingness to go the extra mile, and the ability to multitask many different tasks are critical to providing great service.
#3. Why do you want to work for our company?
Important Points to Address: This question is a good opportunity to show that you have researched the company and know what the business’s objectives are.
I have looked into the company online, and the level of guest service offered, and good reviews show that you clearly run an organization of a very high standard. I have high standards for myself, and I want to work somewhere where these standards and my attention to detail will be valued by my potential employer.
#4. What does good customer service look like?
Important Points to Address: Provide specific examples of times you have seen, received, or provided excellent customer service.
Excellent customer service can look like a lot of things and means something different to everyone. One of the best examples is responding to queries promptly and ensuring requests for callbacks are followed up on promptly. It is the small things and the way that we communicate them that customers notice at the end of the day.
#5. Provide an example of going above and beyond. What was required?
Important Points to Address: Make sure to answer situational questions using examples from your work experience and provide the answer using the STAR method.
Situation: In a previous job, I was working in the reception area when a guest checked in very wet from the rain.
Task: I noted their situation and wanted to provide them with a great experience.
Action: While they were checking in, I called housekeeping to take additional fresh towels to the guest’s room. I also offered to have room service send complimentary hot drinks and cookies to the room.
Result: The customers were very grateful and expressed how thoughtful they thought it was and left a positive review online.
#6. What do you enjoy most about interacting with new people?
Important Points to Address: Talk about making others happy and delivering great service.
I have a genuine passion for helping other people, whether that is a routine check-in or assisting them with finding a local restaurant, or booking a car service. I am also excited to hear someone else’s story when they’re open to having a conversation, and we’re not too busy, but I also respect customers who don’t wish to talk.
#7. What is your time management process?
Important Points to Address: The best way to answer any question about time management is to talk about what process you use and what tools you use to keep on top of things.
My current role has enabled me to learn and use several effective methods for time management. I use software tools, especially digital calendars, to make sure I can see my day, week, and month ahead. Each day I work from a prioritized to-do list so that everything gets done reliably, and I build in a buffer so that I can address issues as they arise.
Finally, I use a color-coded sticky note system to take notes and leave memos and reminders for myself throughout the day.
#8. Are you proficient at using a computer?
Important Points to Address: If necessary, take classes to develop computer skills as they are important for almost all jobs.
Yes, I have a lot of experience using computers and am skilled with most of the popular product suites. I have used MS Office suite a lot and can use Word, Excel, and Outlook. I can learn new programs very quickly, too, and I am also adept at troubleshooting and resolving simple issues without requiring constant supervision or support.
#9. Can you type and talk at the same time?
Important Points to Address: Talk about controlling the speed and flow of conversation and good note-taking practice.
Yes, I have a lot of experience answering queries and taking notes while on the phone. I can touch type at near dictation speeds, and I am also experienced with controlling the speed and flow of conversation so that I can type what I need to as I go without the conversation getting away from me.
#10. What are the main customer service skills you have developed in your career?
Important Points to Address: Try to talk about skills you have that are asked for in the job description.
The two main customer service skills I have developed are patience and communication. Patience lets me stay calm and collected while responding to people that might be tired, upset, or difficult. Communication skills help me to hear what customers and colleagues are saying, to ask the right questions to get more information, and to provide information that is accurate, relevant, and timely.
#11. Provide an example of a time you dealt with an unreasonable or difficult customer. What happened?
Important Points to Address: It is important that you show how you can professionally handle unreasonable customers.
I once had a customer who was angry that the view out their window didn’t match the ad. The room was on the same floor and facing the same direction, but due to wildfires, the woods had been burned out. The customer demanded a refund as it didn’t match.
I apologized to them and let them know about the fire that destroyed the view. I let them know that I could not offer a refund if they decided to stay the night, but offered them a late check out time the next day without a late check-out penalty. They were disappointed but thanked me for the offer and decided to stay for their full reservation.
#12. What would you do if you saw someone acting suspiciously?
Important Points to Address: Any questions about security should always refer to contacting a supervisor and following company standard operating procedures (SOP).
I would note the date, time, and what the person looked like. If they were with someone else or interacted with others, I would note those other people too. I would immediately contact my supervisor and follow the company SOP. If they were doing something illegal, I would call the police while taking notes and contact my supervisor as soon as possible.
#13. What would you do if a caller asked if a certain person was staying at the hotel?
Important Points to Address: Your answer should show the ability to offer reasonable assistance to contacts while protecting guest information and security.
I would follow the company SOP anytime someone wanted to know about guest information. I would explain that I cannot confirm or deny any of our guests. If they know the room number and full name of the person they are trying to reach, I can take a note and pass it on if that person is residing in that room, but I cannot do any more than that.
#14. How well do you perform under pressure?
Important Points to Address: Always provide an answer that frames pressure in a positive way.
I have no problem working under pressure. I thrive under pressure. I have a good organizational style and can keep on top of my tasks. I am also good at multitasking, so I can easily swap between things that need to be done while still providing great service.
#15. What makes you a better receptionist than any other candidate?
Important Points to Address: This is your chance to explain what sets you apart from the other candidates.
First, I understand the importance of a good receptionist to the success of a company as they are the first person that people meet. Second, I have excellent interpersonal skills and can build rapport and interact with people from all backgrounds effectively. Finally, I have great communication skills and can effectively manage difficult situations, from angry or upset customers to those with language barriers.
#16. What work schedule are you looking for?
Important Points to Address: Companies value flexible and reliable employees as demands can change quickly, and the role cannot be left unattended.
While I would prefer a reliable number of hours each week but I understand that the business’s demand will determine shift availability. Because I understand that the business’s needs come first, I am also prepared to be flexible and can come in for overtime or to fill in during emergencies as and when required.
#17. Describe a time you faced a stressful situation at work. What did you do about it?
Important Points to Address: It is important that you can show that stress will not affect the service you provide to customers.
Once when I was at work, another staff member had a medical emergency during a very busy time. I immediately called my supervisor, who was the first aid officer, and then called 911. It shook the other team members and me, but I stayed calm and rallied myself and the remaining team to cover both the injured staff member and those giving assistance.
This would make sure those helping could focus completely on them, and it would keep the businesses running normally for customers, providing the best outcome for everyone.
#18. What is your process for taking a message over the phone?
Important Points to Address: When a question asks for a process, you should always try to refer to three or more steps.
I have a four-step process for effective note-taking. I ask for the caller’s name and confirm their number. I then ask for the name of the person they want to contact and if they have their extension or email. If they do, I suggest they contact them directly.
I then ask what the purpose of the call is and write the note. Finally, before I hang up, I quickly repeat back to them the details to make sure the note is complete.
#19. Are you familiar with using digital calendars and reservation software?
Important Points to Address: If you are familiar with specific software, refer to this by name when answering this question.
I’ve used several calendars and various reservation systems. I find the correct software is very helpful in keeping track of customer appointments, details, requests, notes, and payments all in one place. It is important to be good with the software used because this is reflected in the level of service and quality of care customers experience.
#20. Why is the front desk important to a company?
Important Points to Address: Front-of-house staff are the face of the company and can change if customers have a good or bad time.
The front desk is the first point of contact for customers coming into or calling a company. The quality of service they receive can be a big part of repeat business and their impression of the company. The front desk is also where they will bring most of their queries and complaints, so a receptionist needs to have great people skills, strong patience, and a good general knowledge of the company to direct people to the right staff or services.
#21. Can you describe your multitasking skills?
Important Points to Address: At the front desk, you cannot control your workload very easily, so multitasking is very important.
In my last role, I was responsible for answering phones, greeting guests, and liaising with maintenance and housekeeping staff. It was common to have multiple phone calls come in while doing other tasks. I had to multitask, prioritize, delegate, and schedule tasks to stay on top of things and serve guests effectively.
#22. How do you remain organized?
Important Points to Address: It is important that you have strong organizational skills to ensure that everything that you are responsible for is done correctly.
Being organized is a big deal to me. When I am organized, I feel a stronger sense of calm because I know that I have a plan to accomplish everything.
To remain organized, each Monday, I review the coming week so I can see anything big coming up. Second, before I leave each day, I prepare a to-do list for the next.
During the day, I work from this list and use sticky notes as visual reminders and memos. Finally, I make sure everything is entered, tracked, and marked off from a digital calendar, so it is accessible and traceable.
#23. What do you most enjoy about reception work?
Important Points to Address: It is important to sound excited about the work. If you don’t want to be there, no company will want you to be there.
I enjoy the fact that every day is different. You never know exactly what any day holds. I also enjoy meeting new people, and I like the energy and the fact that there’s a lot of responsibility and you can make a real difference to the company and customers.
#24. What do you most dislike about front desk work?
Important Points to Address: Whenever asked about what you dislike in a role, it is best to pick something that is only a surface observation and isn’t a real objection.
The only thing I dislike is dealing with angry customers. However, most people are reasonable. When dealing with upset customers, I make it my duty to give them a great interaction remembering they’re not usually angry at us. They’ve just had a bad day.
#25. What is your greatest strength?
Important Points to Address: Try to choose a soft skill example because they are hard to demonstrate in other questions.
My greatest strength is my assertiveness. I am very nice and polite, and sometimes this looks to people like I am shy and will be a pushover. But I am very good at treating people respectfully and professionally while standing my ground and asserting myself when people are being rude, aggressive, or unreasonable.
#26. What is your greatest weakness?
Important Points to Address: Provide a weakness that can also be positive, like being too nice.
My biggest weakness is my talkativeness. I love meeting people and talking to them, and sometimes, I talk longer than I should. However, the front desk is usually very busy, which helps me to move on because there’s always something to do, and customers are usually busy and not up for a chat.
#27. Describe a time you made a mistake in customer service. What did you do to correct it?
Important Points to Address: Try to find a mistake to talk about that won’t break a business and was able to be corrected and left the customer content.
Once I had a customer ask me to get the concierge to run a bath before they came back to the room that night. I forgot to pass it on until I saw them walking back in. I quickly waved the customer over and explained and offered that if they went to the bar, there would be a complimentary glass of wine.
While they enjoyed their wine, I had the concierge correct my mistake by drawing a bath with a meat and cheese tray on the edge of the bath. The customer was very happy.
#28. How fast can you type?
Important Points to Address: Unless you have a very high speed, try to use an answer that is general. If you aren’t a fast typist, it is important to stay confident and focus on how your speed has been a match for your current job.
I haven’t tested my speed recently. I can touch type reasonably fast and without errors. In my current role, I take phone notes while I am talking on the phone, and I am fast enough to take customer information and call notes without errors or slowing down the conversation.
#29. How do you keep customer information safe?
Important Points to Address: A business needs to know that you can protect them from liability, such as loss or misuse of customers’ private information.
I never have customer details open on a screen when I am not using it or leave my computer unlocked. If an unauthorized person, such as housekeeping, is behind the desk, I will minimize customer accounts when possible. Further, I never talk to other colleagues or anyone outside of work about who has visited or my interactions with guests.
#30. How do you keep payment details safe?
Important Points to Address: Showing that you know how to protect confidential information with a good process.
If I am holding a customer’s credit card, I will never place it face up on a counter or anywhere other staff or customers can view the numbers. When taking a payment over the phone, I never repeat credit card numbers out loud. This way, no one can overhear the number. Finally, if a customer asks to confirm their payment details, I will only tell them the last 4-digits of a card.
#31. How do you make someone feel welcomed and important?
Important Points to Address: Demonstrating the ability to make someone feel welcome can make or break a front-desk interview.
I greet them with eye contact and a genuine smile and welcome them to the hotel. Once I have their name, I use their title and last name to refer to them. If there is a delay in their room, I will have the concierge take their bags. I then direct them to the guest lounge and available amenities.
#32. How do you stay focused and motivated during a long shift?
Important Points to Address: Talk about being motivated by work as it is always viewed well by employers.
Staying focused is easy for me. There is always something to be done, so there’s no reason to lose focus. If I do notice I am losing my edge, I will get a coffee and have a snack, or if someone can cover for me, I’ll take a 5-minute walk and have a glass of water. I find this is a natural and effective way to re-energize.
#33. What do you do if you have nothing to do?
Important Points to Address: It is best to dismiss these questions and refer to always finding something to do.
I don’t think that there is ever “nothing to do.” There is always something to be done, things like straightening the guest lounge, organizing the desk, making sure guest refreshments are filled, checking the calendar or to-do lists, and finding something that can be moved forward.
#34. How do you provide directions and advice if a hotel guest asks where they should eat nearby?
Important Points to Address: This question is a trick question. Whenever possible, you should direct guests to internal services and amenities.
I would ask them what they are looking for. For instance, if they said they wanted pasta, I would direct them to the in-house restaurant’s great linguini. If it was early in the day, I’d then ask what time they would like me to make a reservation for.
#35. How do you respond when you cannot help a guest with their problem?
Important Points to Address: If you haven’t been asked about privacy or security, this is a good answer as it answers the question, shows good customer service, and shows privacy awareness.
I once had a customer ask me to provide another customer’s information to them. I explained that I could not do this, but I could take a note and pass it on. Dissatisfied, they then got loud and abusive.
I stated that the way they were behaving was against policy and that I would call security if they continued to be threatening. I said that I understood their frustration but that there was nothing I could do. They calmed down, apologized for their aggression, and politely left the front desk.
#36. How do you make an important decision if your supervisor is unavailable?
Important Points to Address: Always start by finding another manager and then take the initiative as a last resort.
First, I would find a more senior manager or supervisor from another team. If no one were available, I would follow standard operating procedure and make a decision based on experience and what I have seen my supervisor do. I would write down what I did and why and notify my manager as soon as possible.
#37. What is your process for working with housekeeping and maintenance staff to assist customers?
Important Points to Address: It is important to show an understanding of how other teams’ work will affect your job.
At the start of my shift, I will always look at the housekeeping and maintenance diaries so that I know what rooms are available. If a guest tells me there is a problem with their room, I will immediately send housekeeping or maintenance. If the problem can’t be fixed quickly, I will move the guest to another room.
#38. When has your attention to detail made a difference in a customer’s experience?
Important Points to Address: It is the small details that can make the biggest difference to customers. Showing that you can spot these small details will give an employer confidence in you.
One time when guests were checking in, I noticed that one of them was on crutches. I asked them if they would like a room with mobility aids, and they said yes. They hadn’t been aware this was an option. They thanked me sincerely and, after their stay, left a glowing review.
#39. When a customer has a complaint, how do you handle it?
Important Points to Address: How you respond to a customer’s complaint will have a big impact on their perception of the service.
If a customer has a complaint, I always start by apologizing and empathizing with them. I use active listening to make sure I understand their complaint fully and offer a solution if possible. If it’s something that can be done right away, I will resolve it. If it takes time, then I explain this to them and what they can expect from the resolution process.
#40. Where do you see yourself in five years?
Important Points to Address: This question is asked in almost all interviews and is really asking how long you will stay at the workplace if hired.
I am looking for a long-term and stable job with a company that I will be happy to work for and build a future with. I want to grow with the company and become a reliable member of the team, and in the future, progress to a team leader or management role.
#41. How do you know when you have been successful in your role?
Important Points to Address: Knowing when you are successful lets you know when there are things you need to improve.
First, a lack of negative feedback or major complaints. The second is positive feedback, either reviews for the company. This could come in the form of compliments from customers or commendations from my manager. Third, observing customers as they come and go and their attitudes and moods throughout the whole experience.
#42. How would you handle two important customers at the same time, one on the phone and one in person?
Important Points to Address: Balancing two VIPs is a comment front desk issue, and you need to be able to handle it.
If no one was available to provide the second customer with dedicated service, I would balance my time. I would take some details from the customer on the phone and ask to put them on hold while I resolved their query. I could then make the present customer my main priority. If another staff member became available at any time, I would have them resolve the phone query.
#43. Do you have experience answering and responding to multiple phone lines?
Important Points to Address: It is great if you do, but if you do not, simply explain a similar scenario where you have handled a lot of contacts.
I haven’t taken calls on multiple lines, but I have taken several phone calls in quick succession in my last job. While I was taking these calls, I would often be putting customers on hold, making internal calls or transfers, and serving customers in person. With the opportunity, I would quickly learn to provide this same fast service over several phones.
#44. We noticed you have a degree. Do you think you are overqualified?
Important Points to Address: If this question is asked, it means that an interviewer is concerned about your commitment. Reassure them.
Not at all. I think front-of-house roles are very important and require more skill and commitment than people think. Plus, it shows my ability to commit, work hard and produce results. It will benefit me as I work to gain experience and grow with the company over time.
#45. How would you respond to an intoxicated guest?
Important Points to Address: It’s important that you can resolve the issue only without involving security except as a last resort.
If a guest were intoxicated, I would try to find out if they had come from the restaurant or perhaps had been out with friends. If they were with friends, I would ask their friends to take them to their room or back to the restaurant. If they were alone and from a room or the restaurant, I would suggest that they return to their room or table. If they were uncooperative or not from our hotel, I would call security to have them escorted appropriately.
#46. What would you do if you disagreed with a colleague?
Important Points to Address: A company wants to know that you can work around disagreements and not make them a long-term issue.
I would talk to them and tell them that I didn’t want the disagreement to become a point of conflict. If we were unable to put it behind us, I would ask a manager to arrange mediation so that we could talk calmly about it and come up with a strategy to prevent future conflict between us.
#47. What would you do if a customer requests late checkout on or at the time of their original checkout time?
Important Points to Address: Keeping customers satisfied is important, but the smooth operation of the hotel must come first.
If the room were not needed immediately, I would offer them an additional hour and notify housekeeping. If the room was booked that day, I would apologize and explain that housekeeping needs to attend to the room. I would offer them to leave their bags with the concierge if they wanted to spend some time in the lounge or bar area.
#48. How do you respond to VIPs, particularly if they are difficult or unfriendly?
Important Points to Address: You need to show that you can respond professionally to the difficulties that VIPs often create.
If a VIP were being difficult, I would overlook their actions and show them the level of professionalism that I would normally. There could be a lot of reasons that they are being difficult, and they are a valued customer. It is our job to make their stay comfortable and help them out, regardless of their mood.
#49. What were your duties in your previous reception or front-of-house role?
Important Points to Address: Try and highlight any tasks you are responsible for that are similar to the new role’s job description.
As the first person customers talked to, I made appointments and reservations, checked guests in, and escorted VIPs and meeting attendees to rooms and facilities. I also answered the main phone line and email address, answering customer questions or redirecting them to the right person. I also handled a lot of admin responsibilities, such as scheduling and ordering housekeeping and maintenance supplies.
#50. How do you overcome language or cultural barriers when talking to a customer?
Important Points to Address: In reception roles meeting people with different languages is common, and being able to communicate across language and culture barriers is important.
I have very good communication skills and can communicate with most people, even if they only speak a little English. If they don’t speak enough English, I will open Google translate on a tablet or computer so that we can communicate in writing. If no phone or computer is available, I offer a pen and paper to write down their queries or communicate with pictures and symbols.
In any job interview, you want to demonstrate that you should be the new hire, and you do this by showing that you are a great fit for the company. For a front desk role, this means giving great answers to a range of specific questions. By using the sample answers provided and adapting them to your work history and experience, you can show that you are the best candidate for the role.
Keith Miller has over 25 years of experience as a CEO and serial entrepreneur. As an entrepreneur, he has founded several multi-million dollar companies. As a writer, Keith's work has been mentioned in CIO Magazine, Workable, BizTech, and The Charlotte Observer. If you have any questions about the content of this blog post, then please send our content editing team a message here.