April 5

Tips for hiring the right receptionist

We all know how important it is that your business presents professionally to all potential and existing customers. Let’s be honest though, when it comes to choosing the right receptionist, it’s ‘horses for courses’. There are some businesses for which a Virtual Receptionist is ideally suited and for many others, a full-time receptionist is necessary. If you think your business is in the latter group, here are some tips to help you with the hiring process. 

Where to get help

Fair Work Australia advises employers on their responsibilities when hiring, employing and terminating staff. Their website is chock full of information and templates.

There are also companies who will help you with your HR and Industrial Relations requirements. If you’re planning on hiring, I strongly suggest that you outsource your HR/IR to one of these companies. They will be able to assist you with all the documentation I discuss below AND help keep it, and you, up to date and compliant with our ever increasing employer responsibilities.

Tip: Google ‘industrial relations solutions’ in your state.

You can choose to hire a professional recruiter and there are a multitude of options open to you if you choose to go down that road.

Tip: Google ‘recruitment agencies’ in your local area.

The hiring process

Fair Work Australia provides information on hiring staff, for small business owners. You’ll find their info here. Working from that I’ve created my own process. It has four steps and over the next few weeks, I’m going to explore each step and give you some ideas that I use when hiring receptionists for my business.

Let’s start with the first step:

Step 1 – getting ready

  • Write a detailed job description
    • Start with a list of duties and tasks that you want this role to undertake.
      • Avoid descriptions that are too general, or ambiguous.
      • At the same time, avoid becoming too prescriptive with the tasks.  A job description is not the place for telling a team member HOW to do their job, that’s why you have your procedure documentation.
    • While we’re on the subject, you should write some procedure documents. These can help to identify the level of authority you’re going to grant to this role.
    • Include high level targets for the duties.
      • Check that the targets can be measured – for example, a target of ‘95% of telephone calls to be answered within 4 rings’ is moot if your phone system doesn’t provide a report detailing the number of rings before a call was answered.
      • Check further that your target is achievable – for example, ‘100% of telephone calls to be answered within 1 ring’ may not be achievable if your phones are busy and this person is also assisting with counter enquiries
    • You’ll now have a clearer picture of the skills and work experience that you want this person to have, so include those in the requirements of the role.
    • DO NOT include requirements that may be discriminatory such as age, gender, race etc
  • Know your obligations. These include:
    • Relevant award for wage rates, minimum working hours, loadings, leave entitlements etc
      • You can call Fair Work Australia for advice on which award is applicable to your team member
      • If you have outsourced to an HR/IR company, seek their advice on the applicable award.
      • You’ll need to work out the applicable classification for the role. You do this with reference back to the job description. The key things you need to take into account are the actual tasks and the levels of authority and responsibility that you want this person to have.
      • You may find that you will go through a few iterations of the job description at this point, because the level of responsibility may indicate a higher wage level than that which you can afford. As frustrating as it may seem, you may need to rethink either your budget or your expectations. Remember that it is far cheaper to get these things right BEFORE you employ someone, than to risk the time and money that can be wasted on industrial relations issues after the person has been employed for a few months.
    • National Employment Standards (NES) – these specify minimum requirements and are to be used in conjunction with the relevant award

Next week, I’ll talk about how I go about advertising roles. ‘Till then, you may wish to see how one business circumvented the entire hiring process by outsourcing their reception services to a Virtual Receptionist.

You might also like