NHS Receptionist Interview Questions: Top Tips On How To Pass!

One of the most important, and often understated, roles within the NHS – is that of receptionists. Receptionists play a key role in NHS customer care protocols, and in delivering a fast, efficient medical service, that is second to none.

In order to work as an NHS receptionist, you’ll need a very particular set of skills. In this blog, we’ll run you through the day to day role of an NHS receptionist, and give you some great tips on how to pass the NHS receptionist interview.

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The Role of an NHS Receptionist

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In very simple terms, the job of an NHS Receptionist is to manage the greeting and scheduling of visitors to the hospital, answer and deal with phone calls/appointments, maintain a clear line of communication with doctors and other staff at the hospital, and ensure that the ward or hospital they are working in runs smoothly. While this is a very simple description, it goes without saying that all of the aforementioned take tremendous amounts of organisation and skill. Let’s look at these in more detail.

Manage the greeting and scheduling of visitors to the hospital

As a receptionist, you are the first person that a patient meets/sees when they arrive. This means that, very often, you will be dealing with distressed or upset people, who are in pain or scared. Put yourself in the position of a patient. How would you want to be treated in this situation? You would want someone with a calming, reassuring presence, who treats you with respect and dignity. It’s imperative that NHS receptionists can remain calm under pressure, and display impeccable customer service skills. The latter will be a key phrase during the NHS Receptionist interview, so take note of this.

Answering and dealing with phone calls/appointments

As an NHS receptionist, your organisation skills will be paramount to the role. It’s extremely important that you have things in order, and therefore any experience of scheduling and managing appointments will be very useful in this respect. Obviously, you’ll be working with other receptionists, so you won’t have to do everything on your own, but you can probably imagine that things get very complicated when it comes to a service such as the NHS. This is also why you need to be good at the next area…

Maintaining a clear line of communication with doctors

As a receptionist, your ability to communicate and maintain a good relationship with medical staff is imperative. The NHS is a team effort, and everyone on the medical team (doctors, nurses, receptionists) need to operate from the same page and work as a unit. During your interview, you can expect to be quizzed on your ability to cooperate with others and work as part of a team.

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What qualities do you have that would make you a good NHS receptionist?

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This is a very common opening question, and is a fantastic opportunity for you to sell yourself to the interview. So, do it! Tell the interviewer all about your skills and how they link up with the particular requirements for this role.

Think about what makes a good NHS receptionist: teamwork, customer service, organisation, a genuine care for patients, and then show the interviewer that you have all of these skills. When formulating your response to this question, try not to just list the qualities, as this will make your answer seem false. Instead, take the time to expand on each individual point.

For example: ‘One reason I think I’d be a good NHS receptionist, is that I’m a really organised person. I understand that this is important in a service such as the NHS, which requires staff to maintain a tight schedule, and adhere to appointment accuracy.’

Top Tips For Answering This Question

  • Study the job description before you attend the interview. Learn the key skills and qualities that the interview is looking for, and think about how they relate to you personally.
  • Don’t just list the qualities – make sure you expand on them!
  • Think about what makes a really good NHS receptionist, and then use this during your interview!

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How do you think you would cope when working under pressure?

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This is a very apt and important question. Working as an NHS receptionist is not like other receptionist roles. You will be under severe pressure at many points – and you must be able to handle this and organise yourself in the right way. Hospitals sink or swim based on their staff’s ability to manage themselves in times of crisis, and for this reason it’s important to the interviewers to hire somebody who can handle tough days.

When answering this question, try to give a personal or professional example of when you’ve been under severe stress, but still managed to stay calm and professional, achieving a great result despite adversity.

Top Tips For Answering This Question

  • The interviewers will want to see that you have the mindset and confidence to deal with stressful situations – so make sure you show them this.
  • Pre-prepare for the interview, by thinking about situations where you’ve coped with adversity, to achieve a good resolution.

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How would you handle an angry patient?

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Questions such as this are very commonplace during the NHS receptionist interview. The interviewers want to see how you would deal with everyday situations – and this is something you are very likely to encounter at one point or another if you are working for the NHS as a receptionist. The key to answering this is to demonstrate your impeccable customer service skills, and your empathy for others. For example:

‘If an angry patient came to the desk, then the first thing I would do would be to try to calm them down so they could explain the issue clearly, and so that we could resolve the situation. I understand that often, patients are frightened or scared. Hospitals are intimidating places, and it would be my role as a receptionist to lessen this fear and make things comfortable for everyone.’

Essentially, you need to show an awareness of people’s emotions, and how they might be feeling in a stressful scenario, rather than making the situation worse. The NHS wants receptionists who show impeccable customer service skills.

Top Tips For Answering This Question

  • Show your empathy and understanding for others. It’s better to try and understand why someone is angry, than getting angry yourself.
  • This is a customer service-related question! So, demonstrate your customer service skills!
  • Remember that the interviewers are looking for a calming, reassuring person, not someone who responds angrily to customer complaints.

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The NHS receptionist interview will test your customer service skills.

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If you want to further increase your chances of securing an NHS career, then we’ve got the perfect resource for you! Our NHS interview hub is jam-packed with tips and tricks on how answer just about any medical interview question that you can think of. So, don’t hang around. Sign up below, and get notified on how YOU can join the NHS!

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Jordan Cooke



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