Your interview doesn’t start when you shake hands with your interviewer — it starts as soon as you walk through the front door.
Unfortunately, job seekers often forget that they should be on their best behaviour from the get go, and this could wind up costing them the job.
It’s imperative to think before you speak, even when you think no one involved in the hiring decision is listening. Because the truth is, receptionists are often the first set of eyes and ears a company has, and what you say to them will likely make its way back to hiring managers.
As a receptionist at a staffing and recruitment firm writes, “A part of my job is to watch you when you first walk through the door, and believe me when I say the recruiters always ask my opinion of you after you’ve left, to see how you normally behave.”
Andy Ory, the CEO of a Bedford, Massachusetts-based data-delivery company, told the Wall Street Journal that first impressions, which are often formed while an applicant waits in the lobby, become relevant to his company’s hiring decision up to about 10% of the time. If he’s on the fence about hiring a candidate after an interview, he’ll seek the advice of an executive assistant and HR administrator, who have a “gut-level sense” of whether someone’s a fit.
Continually asking the receptionist if she is sure that your interviewer knows you’re waiting for her out in the lobby may convey your neuroses, says Vicky Oliver, author of “301 Smart Answers to Tough Interview Questions” and “Bad Bosses, Crazy Coworkers & Other Office Idiots.” And flip comments like “Hey, beautiful,” aren’t the compliments you may think they are, she says.
It’s also a good idea not to do anything in the lobby that you wouldn’t want your interviewer to see, like grooming in public or organising your mess of a purse.
Knowing that you’re under scrutiny as soon as you arrive at your interview could be to your advantage.
Instead of texting or playing Pokémon Go while you wait, which will make you look as if you would rather be elsewhere, grab a copy of the industry magazine in front of you, a company brochure, or even re-review your own résumé .
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