Your Job Interview Starts The Second You Walk In The Door

It's easy to think that your job interview starts when you greet the person meeting with you. However, as the Wall Street Journal points out, everyone from the security guard to the receptionist is watching you, which means your performance is being monitored before you might be ready.

Photo by Anders Sandberg.

A big part of your job interview is figuring out if you'll fit in with the culture of the workplace, and often a receptionist will watch your demeanour as you wait for an interview or when you're dropping off a resume. In some cases, the chain of information goes even further. The Wall Street Journal explains:

Administrative assistants aren't the only ones watching. Sometimes crucial impressions are formed even earlier than the first meeting, if an applicant has been communicating with administrative staff to make logistical arrangements for, say, an in-person meeting or a videoconference.

"Smart recruiters ask for feedback from the travel agent, the driver from the car service that picked you up at the airport, and the admin that walked you around all day," says Rusty Rueff, who once headed HR at PepsiCo and Electronic Arts and now is a board director at workplace-review site

The point is that whether you're dropping off a resume or heading to an interview, make sure you're presenting yourself well to everyone involved in the process. This might be as simple as politely chatting with a security guard or giving the receptionist a firm handshake.

The Receptionist Is Watching You [Wall Street Journal]


    A friend who works as a receptionist was telling me about a guy that came to an interview that was making jokes to her about the company and it's employees while he was waiting for the interview. He didn't get the job.

    Absolutely true. When interviewing job applicants I always check with our receptionist to get her feedback on each candidate, e.g. Whether they arrive early, on time or late, whether they speak nicely to her, whether they appear very nervous, etc. This feedback proved invaluable recently when I interviewed a candidate who seemed fantastic, however, when I checked with our receptionist she told me the candidate had refused to fill in her details in our visitors ledger (a health and safety requirement) and took a call in the foyer on her mobile during which she swore several times. She also spotted the candidate smoking in the courtyard outside afterwards and disposing of her cigarette by flicking it on the ground. She didn't make it to our second round of interviews.

    Definitely true. They did the same thing at iiNet when I went in to their HQ in Subiaco for a job interview. I even noticed the receptionist ladies were attentively listening to every word the candidates (me included) were saying and it also appeared they were taking notice of how we carried ourselves.

    Attending that interview at iiNet HQ alone taught me that other companies must also be doing this with candidates.

    And, yes, I got the job :-D

    As a receptionist I rarely get asked about candidates who come in for interview.
    As an interviewee I would be nice to anyone who came into reception, though - you never know if the person you're interacting with is the boss!

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