A secretary holds a very powerful position in any organization. When a person walks into your company for the first time, the first person he would likely see is your secretary or receptionist and the way he is treated by them would go a long way in forming an impression of your company on the visitors mind.

Therefore, it is not incorrect to say that secretaries/receptionists are image makers of your company. They must know how to dress well, talk well and even speak well; they must also be people who can keep confidential information and can be punctual at work every day. Some of the things to look out for when interviewing for a secretary or receptionist position include:

6 Factors to Look Out for When Interviewing a Secretary / Receptionist

You should find out how much the candidate knows about being a receptionist/secretary and whether or not she has occupied a similar position before.

  • Skills

Another thing to look out for is the candidate’s skills such as communication and typing skills.

  • Ability to work with superiors

Receptionists/secretaries would mostly have senior workers which they are expected to work with. You would want to know if this person can work well with her superiors.

  • Inter-office Communication skills

You would also want to determine if this person is able to deal with the different personalities she is likely to meet with everyday.

  • Punctuality

Every other person might play job truancy but not the receptionist. The position she occupies is so important that she has to be at work t all times and you have to find out if this person is capable of committing to that.

  • Multi-Taking Skills

The workload of a secretary is usually heavy. She has to type, answer calls, receive guests and do a whole lot of things at the same time. The ability to multi-task is a very important skill that every secretary must have.

How to Prepare for a Secretary/Receptionist Interview Session

  • Choose a location for the interview. The location should be a quiet place with less distraction.
  • Decide on the interview timing. How long the interview is going to last.
  • Select the interview panel. If you have a personnel manager, he should be in the interview panel. You should also include some of the people the receptionist would be working with within the organization.
  • Print out a copy of each candidate’s curriculum vitae and hand it over to members of the interview panel so that they can learn some things about the candidate and know some of the questions to ask prior to the interview.
  • Prepare your questions before hand and decide on who is going to ask each of the questions.

Some of the questions you should ask during the interview include-:

35 Possible Questions You Can Ask Prospective Secretaries / Receptionists

  1. Do you have any experience with calendar maintenance and meeting scheduling? If yes, how do you schedule a meeting?
  2. What are the things that need to be taken care of when scheduling a meeting?
  3. What calendar management software are you familiar with?
  4. What is confidential information?
  5. If an information/file is tagged confidential, how would you handle it?
  6. Tell me what you know about filing systems.
  7. How do you keep records?
  8. How would you handle computer filing?
  9. What is a formal and informal letter?
  10. What would you include in a formal letter that you wouldn’t bother having in an informal one?
  11. Do you have samples of any formal letters you have written in the past?
  12. What are the different types of business communication systems?
  13. Which software or application do you use to ensure that you write correctly?
  14. Give the secretary a letter with some errors and ask her to edit the letter in few minutes.
  15. What challenges do you face when trying to provide written communication?
  16. What steps do you take to ensure that files are easily found especially in your absence?
  17. Why do you want to leave your current job?
  18. What suggestions or improvement advice do you have for us based on our current secretarial procedures?
  19. If you had several priorities that needed handling at the same time, how do you select which one to handle first?
  20. Describe multi-tasking?
  21. Do you think that you are able to multi-task?
  22. What if you find out that your workload is a little too heavy, what would you do?
  23. How would you deal with strict deadlines?
  24. Tell me about a time when you had to deal with a very strict deadline within an insufficient time.
  25. What kind of computer software and applications are you very familiar with?
  26. What is your typing speed?
  27. At a management meeting, what are the things a secretary is expected to do?
  28. How do you deal with difficult people on phone?
  29. Has a visitor or client ever been rude to you? If so, how did you feel and how did you handle it?
  30. How do you handle angry customers?
  31. Are you a very fast worker or do you like to take your time so you don’t make mistakes instead?
  32. What is proofreading?
  33. What are the things to look out for when proofreading?
  34. Do you like working with other people or do you prefer to work alone?
  35. What is the least amount you can take if offered this job?

These are the basic questions you should ask candidates interviewing for a secretary/receptionist position. You can also consider going a step further by giving the candidate some practical tasks to perform like writing a letter or answering a phone call.

You should also observe the way the candidate dresses and comports herself; secretaries are supposed to be well dressed, polite and be of good behavior at all times. Since the person would also be handling a lot of confidential information, you might want to look into the background of the candidate and ask for references so that you can be on the safe side.

Ajaero Tony Martins