Front Desk Interview Questions
A front desk clerk is the first person to greet and assist customers at a hotel. Not only do they greet and direct customers, front desk clerks also manage reservations and maintain customer billing.
In addition, front desk clerks are responsible for answering and forwarding calls to the correct staff members. They may also serve as a concierge, directing customers to tourist sites and other local businesses such as restaurants and stores.
A front desk clerk's responsibilities include:
- Managing customer interactions and being a go-between for customers and management
- Acting as a concierge for customers
- Answering phone calls and customer inquiries
- Managing reservations, checkouts, and billing.
- Communicating customer complaints to management
A front desk clerk's skills include:
- Professional customer service skills
- Basic knowledge of spreadsheets for booking and billing
- Strong communication skills.
- Flexibility and the ability to work long and late hours to accommodate customers
- Organizational skills and attention to detail
A high school diploma or GED is required for the position of a front desk clerk, along with several years of experience in customer service and/or the hospitality industry. Possessing a proficiency in two or more languages will make an applicant more competitive, particularly for larger hotels catering to an international clientele. Good oral and written communication skills are also required, along with proper phone communication skills.
Salaries for front desk clerks range between $20K and $38K with the median being $28K.
Factors impacting the salary you receive as a front desk clerk include:
- Degrees (high school, associate's, bachelor's)
- Size and Type of the Property
- Reporting Structure (seniority of the manager or supervisor you report to)
- Level of Performance - exceeding expectations, etc.
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Fronk Desk Interview Questions
Question: In your opinion, what are the most important qualities a hotel front desk clerk should have?
Explanation: This is a general question the interviewer will ask early in the interview to start the conversation, learn more about your background, and collect information they can use throughout the interview. The interviewer is expecting you to talk about the qualities you have. This also provides you the opportunity to move the interview in a direction with which you are comfortable.
Example: “First and foremost, a hotel front desk clerk should be a people person. They should enjoy engaging with the public and be service-oriented. Their main goal should be to provide hotel guests with an exceptional experience which will lead to their satisfaction and recommendations for other guests. They should also be efficient, detail-oriented, and able to work under stressful conditions.”
Question: What contributions do front desk clerks make to the success of the property?
Explanation: By asking this question, the interviewer is seeking to confirm that you understand the importance of a front desk clerk. It would be best if you talked about being the first face of the hotel each guest encounters and your ability to influence the guest experience.
Example: “When a guest first arrives at the hotel, the front desk clerk is likely the first person they will encounter. It is paramount that the clerk greets guests warmly, setting the expectation that the guests are going to have an enjoyable experience while staying at the hotel. They should answer all of the guest’s questions, get them checked in quickly and efficiently, then make some recommendations that will enhance the guest’s time while on the property. They should also offer to assist the guest in any way possible. This will make guests feel warm and welcomed, giving them a favorable first impression of the hotel.”
Question: Can you describe how you prioritize your time and duties while working at the front desk during high-occupancy periods?
Explanation: This is an operational question which the interviewer will ask to better understand how you go about doing your job. Operational questions are best answered briefly and directly, allowing the interviewer to ask follow-up questions if they want to dig deeper into the topic.
Example: “While at the front desk, my primary responsibility is to work with people who present themselves at the desk. My full attention needs to be on addressing their needs, answering their questions, and resolving any issues they have. The second priority is to handle phone calls, either internal to the property or external contacts, who want to make a reservation or have questions. If there are no guests to deal with, I then take time to organize my paperwork, make sure the area I work in is neat and tidy, and look for other ways I can improve the environment to make a favorable impression on the guests visiting the property.”
Question: How would you respond if a guest asked you for directions to a restaurant close to the hotel?
Explanation: This operational question is a tricky one. While it appears you should answer the question by explaining how you assist the guest, the interviewer may be looking to learn more about your sales skills. Many hotel property managers would want you to first respond by recommending any on-site amenities the guest can take advantage of. You can then provide the information the guest is requesting so they can make a choice and feel like their questions have been answered.
Example: “If a guest asked about a local restaurant, my first response would be to acknowledge their request and say something positive about the establishment. I would then suggest the on-site eating establishments, noting they are as good or better than the one they are inquiring about and would be more convenient because they can stay on the property. Having pitched the hotel’s amenities, I would then provide the guest with the directions they were looking for and then offer to get them a taxi or rideshare if they didn’t have their own transportation.”
Question: Have you ever been unable to solve a guest's problem, and if so, what did you do?
Explanation: This is a hybrid behavioral and operational question. Behavioral questions ask how you would respond to a specific situation you are likely to encounter in this role. Operational questions, on the other hand, seek to understand how you perform a specific task. You should be able to differentiate between behavioral and operational questions and answer them appropriately.
Example: “It is rare that I’m not able to resolve a guest’s problem or issue. However, this has occurred on several occasions due to the issue being beyond my control or something that no one on the property could help resolve. When this occurs, I seek other resources that may be able to assist the guest, including some that may not be associated with the property. I also offer to compensate the guests in some way, either with certificates they can use at on-site amenities, a reduced rate for future stays, or some other monetary compensation. These must all be pre-authorized by management and within the operating policies of the hotel.”
Question: What is your process for making critical decisions when a supervisor isn’t available?
Explanation: While a front desk clerk is a relatively junior position, many properties give them some limited authority to act independently. When answering this operational question, you should first note how you would follow hotel policy and then demonstrate how you would take the initiative to resolve the issue or satisfy a guest.
Example: “Whenever an issue occurs or a problem becomes apparent and it is beyond my authority, I first seek assistance from my management team or another supervisor who has the authority to make the appropriate decision. If no one is available, I then take the initiative to resolve the issue while operating within my understanding of the hotel’s policies. If I determine this is not possible, I will inform the guest that I’m not able to help them at this time, but I will seek out a resolution and get the information to them as quickly as possible. I also thank them for their patience while I attempt to resolve their issue.”
Question: Have you ever had to provide a guest basic food service (e.g., a light breakfast or late-night snack), and how did you do this while still managing the front desk?
Explanation: While the front desk clerk’s primary responsibility is to manage guests’ check-in and check-out activities, answer phone inquiries, and make reservations, they are sometimes called on to do things that are outside of their immediate responsibility. By asking this question, the interviewer is trying to determine if you’re willing to go beyond the job description to satisfy a guest's needs. Your answer should demonstrate a balance between helping the guest and performing your primary duties.
Example: “During my career, I have worked at several different properties of various sizes. The larger properties have more employees, and each department is well-staffed, so the opportunity to provide food service never arose. However, when working at smaller properties, a front desk clerk has to be prepared to do anything it takes to satisfy a guest’s requests within reason and while adhering to the policies of the hotel. I am more than willing to help a guest obtain a light breakfast or late-night snack either by working with the kitchen if it is open or helping them connect with an outside food service who can deliver something that will satisfy them.”
Question: Have you ever gone above and beyond the call of duty to satisfy a guest?
Explanation: This is a follow-up to the previous question. As mentioned earlier, you can anticipate follow-up questions every time you give an answer. A follow-up question suggests the interviewer is specifically interested in this topic. This provides you the opportunity to expound on your skills or experience in this area to demonstrate your qualifications for the job.
Example: “The most memorable time I went beyond the call of duty was probably the time I noticed a stuffed animal sitting in the lobby while I was at the front desk. It became apparent that it did not belong to anyone present. I reviewed the guest check-out log and realized there was a family that had just left who had a child. I contacted the parents and confirmed the toy belonged to their child. I then made arrangements to have it shipped to their residence. The parents were thrilled by my actions because the animal was one of the child’s favorite 'friends'. They wrote a letter to the hotel management which resulted in me getting a commendation for my actions.”
Question: How do you collaborate with the maintenance and housekeeping staff to ensure the property’s rooms are ready for a guest’s arrival?
Explanation: One of the critical elements of a guest’s experience while staying at a hotel property is the cleanliness and functionality of their room. As a front desk clerk, it is your responsibility to ensure the rooms are ready for the guests when they arrive. Your answer to this question should demonstrate your ability to work with other departments within the hotel to maintain standards and provide guests with the best experience possible.
Example: “When starting a shift on the front desk, the first thing I do is look at the room availability list to get a clear understanding of what rooms are ready for guests who are checking in. I then assign rooms based on which ones have been prepared the longest, assuming that these are the readiest. If a guest reports that their room is either not clean or has some other issue, I immediately contact housekeeping or maintenance to resolve the issue. If I determine the issue cannot be resolved in a reasonable amount of time, I move the guest to another room and provide them with some compensation, such as a voucher for the on-site restaurant.”
Question: Share an experience in which your attention to detail and thoroughness had an impact on a previous organization you worked for.
Explanation: In one of your previous answers, you mentioned that attention to detail is an important quality a front desk clerk must have. Even though this is a follow-up question to that one, it did not occur immediately. Interviewers will sometimes ask follow-up questions intermittently or with long durations after the original question to determine if your answers are consistent throughout the interview. The best way to comply with this is to make sure your answers are truthful and honest.
Example: “As I mentioned earlier, attention to detail is one of the key qualities a front desk clerk should possess. I’m proud of my ability to notice small details and address them appropriately. On one occasion, I noticed that one of the family members of the guests who were checking in was using crutches. I acknowledged this with the guests and asked if they would prefer a room that had provisions for guests with limited mobility. They stated that they were not aware this was available and appreciated my suggestion. Upon checkout, they thanked me for recommending the specific room and stated how it contributed to their enjoyment during their stay.”
Additional Front Desk Interview Questions
What hotels have you previously worked in?
Do you speak a second language? If so, what language?
How do you typically greet new customers?
Describe a time you had to deal with an unsatisfied customer. How did you rectify the situation?
How do you maintain a good relationship with management?
How do you interact with customers on the phone as opposed to in person? Is there a difference?
What billing and booking software are you most familiar with?
How do you handle interactions when multiple clients are trying to get your attention?
How well do you work in high-stress environments?
How well do you adapt to new practices in the workplace?
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