6.23.2014

Interview Much...? Stories from a Receptionist About First Impressions

Job hunting and interview tips from receptionist

By night I blog but by day I am an office manager.

I started as a receptionist and by a stroke of great luck I was promoted to administrative assistant which lead me to office manager.  Despite the title, I am still a receptionist.  My desk is in the lobby, I greet people, schedule rooms, and let vendors in. Well, all that plus more but for a good portion of the day I am a receptionist.

I happen to love my job but like any great jobs there are certain aspects that are not my favorite.  Greeting people coming for an interview is one of those things.  Don't get me wrong, I work with some fantastic people who once came for an interview but there is a fairly large percentage of would be employees who don't make the cut and I can usually tell their outcome based on how they treat me.

I am no longer surprised by the rudeness I encounter from applicants nor how professional and nice they will be when the person doing the interview shows up to collect them for the interview.  What most fail to realize is that the manager doing your interview may ask my opinion of you or I will tell them.  When you are rude to the person who greets you, it does not look good and speaks volumes on your character.

My office, like many, is secured which means you have to be buzzed in to the main lobby off the elevators. There is a phone on the wall to call in if I am not at the desk or if I am not watching the door.  Tip: Receptionists do not spend the day watching the door.  I work at my computer on various things that need my attention and you standing at the door will not make me look up.  Yes, tapping on the glass will but there is a sign, pointing to the phone that you are suppose to pick up and use.  Not only does this get my attention but will allow me to know why you are there or if I am not at my desk will summon someone to open the door to let you in.

Oddly, most will tap on the window.  I will push the button to let you in and even motion you to come forward but some, would be applicants, will stand there for several minutes getting mad at me because they are pulling instead of pushing or even just standing there thinking the door will open on its own.  There are a few so confident that they walk right into the locked doors.  That does get my attention but trying not to laugh at a face squashed at the window is a challenge.

I know that they are embarrassed that they could not figure out the push not pull thing but there is no reason to take that out on the receptionist or me.

Stories from a Receptionist About First Impressions

Many applicants come in and say that they have a meeting.  The first few times this happened I genuinely thought that and did not give them the paperwork that they are required to fill out.  This does not hurt me but holds up the interview process since it takes about fifteen minutes to fill it all out.  If you come for an interview don't waste time trying to sound more important.

Speaking of paperwork, my company requires a writing assessment with the application to be done before the interview.  You have to rewrite two paragraphs and it is to show your writing skills but also how you would handle these hypothetical situations.

I like to read them because one shows how you would handle a situation with a coworker and very rarely did anyone rewrite it taking responsibility for their hypothetical actions.  Beyond that, some applicants openly question why they are asked to do it.

All applicants had to do it regardless of the position that they were applying.  One applicant was going for an IT position and questioned me why she had to do it, loudly, and from her seat across the room from me. The person doing the interview was from our corporate offices out of New York so I set him up in the conference room off the lobby to do the interviews and could hear everything that was being said.

I will not respond if someone shouts from across the room at me.  I may pretend not to hear them until they get up from their seat and come talk to me but for the most part I will ignore anyone who talks to me from across the room.  This applicant refused to get that it was wrong to shout at me, demanding to know why she had to fill it out, and wondering why I had not gotten up to announce her presence.

What most fail to realize is that we have instant message and I let managers know with out having to leave my desk or even pick up the phone.  I had already told him that she was here but I did get up from my desk, walked around to the front, past her, and into the conference room where he was sitting waiting for her to finish her application.  You can imagine the look on her face when I walked out and yes, he had heard everything.  It was not a long interview and she did not get the job.

Just this week an applicant asked, from his chair, if I had told the hiring manager that he was waiting.  I could feel the irritation shoot from my eyes at him, "I'm sorry?"

"Does she know that I am waiting?"

"I'm sorry?" I repeated cupping my ear.

"Does she know I am here?" he said from his seat, oblivious to my request to get up and talk to me.

"Are you asking me if I did my job?"

"Oh, know, I am sure you are doing a fine job!!" he said as the hiring manager was rounding the corner.  She heard this exchange as well.

At least he did not ask for a bottle of water.  I am not sure where the idea came from that applicants for a job can request this of the receptionist but unless you are offered, coffee, tea, or water, please ask where a water fountain is or the bathroom.  And, if they do ask, don't accept.  I have been known to get water for those who are truly in need and just obviously need it.  They also did not ask and were nice.  They usually got the job.

Coming prepared to a job interview means bringing a pen and your resume.  Yes, the recruiter probably emailed your resume, as well as the resumes of the dozens that are also interviewing for the same job, to the hiring manager so don't you think handing them a copy would be beneficial?  I promise you, they did not print your resume. They may have glanced over it on the computer but they did not print it.   Having a copy to hold will help you be memorable.  Bringing a pen just makes you look prepared.

@MryJhnsn iNeed a Playdate helps you interview

Now, my company requires you to bring your resume with you to your interview.  If you didn't bring it, please don't expect the receptionist to print it for you if you email it to them.  I will also not print it from your thumb drive.  Okay, I may but I will tell on you.  There have been a few occasions that I believed the sad story about why a resume could not be printed but to be honest there are so many options in this situation that it is not acceptable.  Besides, you should always have a resume on you if you are job hunting, you never know when an opportunity will arise that will give you an in and a hand to take the resume.

Along with your resume (and a pen), please (please) do your research about the company you think you want to work.  Check out their website, pick up a tidbit that you found (i.e. it's our 60th anniversary!), or come prepared with questions that you may need to help understand what we do to help you decide if you want to work here.  You will not get a second interview if you have no idea what the company does.

Something to keep in the back of your mind, you are not special.  There are dozens of people, just as qualified, applying for this job - how do you want to be remembered?






My opinions are my own and do not represent my company.  
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