5 Qualities to Look for in a Veterinary Receptionist

Of all the roles to fill in a veterinary hospital, it may seem like the receptionist would be the easiest. After all, it doesn’t necessarily require any type of clinical skills. It may not even require any industry experience. But if you think about the fact that your front desk almost always serves as the first and last impression a client has of your practice, it becomes abundantly just how important finding the right person for this position truly is.

The fact is, your receptionist serves as the face of your practice. Whether it’s answering the phones, checking a client in or out, scheduling appointments or following up, your front desk plays a pivotal role in client satisfaction. One bad experience could cost you a person’s business forever, often before you even have a chance to demonstrate the level of care and service you’re capable of providing. As such, hiring the right individual to represent your front office is critical to your ongoing success.

To help you avoid making a grave error, here are five make-or-break qualities to look for during the hiring process.


You’ve worked hard to establish a successful business. The last thing you need is for your receptionist to tarnish your spotless reputation. The person you have manning your front desk should represent your practice with the same quality and caliber as the service you provide. No exceptions. One bad interaction is all it might take to drive a good lead or loyal client into the arms of your competitor. Make sure when you are screening applicants that the ones you shortlist possess the utmost poise and professionalism.

Positive Energy

Smiling at animals comes naturally to most of us, but keeping that same up-beat and positive attitude with their human companions may be an entirely different story. Let’s face it, dealing with the public isn’t always easy and it’s not always pleasant. A good veterinary receptionist knows how to “fake it until he/she makes it” without ever letting stress or external circumstances rattle them. Remember – they are the very first and often lasting memory a client will have of your clinic. To that end, unwavering positive energy – even in the face of adversity – is an absolute must.


If a veterinary receptionist isn’t exhausted by the end of the workday, there’s a good chance he or she lacks adequate conviction for the role. The front desk of an animal hospital requires far more stamina than administrative jobs in other industries. At any given moment, a client may need to be greeted and checked in, a fax might need to be sent, the phone could be ringing off the hook, a mess in the lobby may need cleaning – the list goes on and on. This type of hectic environment can really take its toll. That’s why finding someone with unrelenting stamina is absolutely necessary.

Emotional Elasticity

What a veterinary receptionist’s role lacks in physical demands, it more than makes up for in mental requirements. This person can easily experience an entire spectrum of emotions in the span of just one day – from the joy of welcoming a new kitten to the seriousness of scheduling an emergency surgery to the gut-wrenching grief of helping a long-time client say goodbye to his or her beloved pet. And throughout all of this, the receptionist must still perform all the daily duties that must be done. As such, the ability to manage and control emotions at all times is a must. That’s not to say you want someone with no emotion, however. The key is finding a balance between empathy and poise.

Confidence and Self-Respect

Ask any other member of your team which job within the clinic they feel would be the most challenging for them to do, and chances are they’ll say managing the front desk. It is, arguably, one of the most difficult positions in veterinary medicine. Yet, for some reason, this role fails to garner the respect it truly deserves. In the hustle and bustle of a typical busy day, it’s easy for a receptionist to feel overwhelmed and unappreciated. And while you should certainly make an attempt to change this in your practice, it’s always a good idea to look for someone who firmly believes in his or her own self-worth.

Staffing your veterinary practice with the right team is important to your ongoing success. But perhaps no role is quite as important as that of the receptionist. By strategically recruiting for the five make-or-break qualities above, you’ll be in a much better position to succeed right out of the gate.