Ask The Receptionist These Questions While Waiting For A Job Interview

Ask The Receptionist These Questions While Waiting For A Job Interview
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We all know that one of the keys to a successful job interview is to know a bit about the company’s culture. To get a better view of that before the job interview, author Tim Hurson suggests asking the receptionist a few simple questions.

Photo by Evan Bench

The time you spend sitting in the waiting room waiting for the interview is a great opportunity to gather up some intelligence. Hurson has a few questions to ask the receptionist to help you with that task:

  • How long has the company been at this location (or on this floor)? What was the reason for the move?
  • How many people work here? What kinds of jobs do they do? This can often lead to great follow-up conversations. If the location has both engineering and marketing in it for example, you can observe that that’s an unusual combination. Any reason for that?
  • What’s the biggest department or division in this location?
  • Is everyone always this (relaxed, friendly, energised, busy) around here, or is something special going on today?
  • What do you like best about working here?
  • Are the principals usually around, or mostly on the road? Do you get to see or talk to them much?

Obviously you don’t need to ask every question and context is important. The real point is that the receptionist is a great resource for information about a company, so make sure to chat it up with them if it seems appropriate.

The Secrets of a Waiting Room Jedi [LinkedIn via 99U]


  • I would have thought these were better questions to ask whoever is escorting you to the interview room for two reasons (unless it is the receptionist anyway). Firstly the receptionist probably has much better things to do than chat to you (like answering phones). Secondly it gives you an opportunity to gauge the person escorting you who will often be the most junior person in your interview. Bonus feature of this approach is that it gives you something to focus on other than your nerves as you walk to the room.

    • good call Thomas.
      Most reception staff I’ve worked with would find this questioning “unusual”. If you want to stand out, it’s a good strategy. If you want to make a good impression, I would NOT follow the Author’s advice.
      I’ve usually had good repoire with reception staff at places I’ve worked. They have been known to fill me in on juice details like “weirdo” or “pushy”. As reception staff deal with a lot of people, I usually listen to their views carefully.

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