A number of articles have appeared recently in US news items, illustrating the importance of impressing the receptionist when attending job interviews – no matter how important the position in question.

Receptionist has revenge!

CNN published a letter from a receptionist complaining about her treatment by job candidates who were less than discourteous on their arrival. The senior vice president of the firm was recruiting a middle management position and several of the interviewees had been rude or completely ignored the receptionist on their way to their interview. Revenge came, however, when the receptionist in question was asked by her boss, for her opinion of the candidates who’d come through. Thumbs down, no second interview.

It seems that it’s becoming more accepted for bosses to ask for opinions from employees when recruiting – recognizing the importance of co-operation amongst staff.

So to inspire receptionists everywhere, we asked ClearRock, Executive Coaching and Outplacement, for their comments:

Job-Seekers’ Guide for Dealing with Receptionists!

“One of the biggest reasons newly recruited managers and executives are continuing to fail in their new jobs at such a high rate – at least 4 out of 10 –is their inability to fit into a company’s culture and get along with the people who work there. So, more organizations are asking employees, right from the start, their impressions of candidates, and receptionists’ opinions are increasingly being sought,” said Annie Stevens, managing partner for ClearRock.

“Some companies feel a lot can be learned from how candidates treat receptionists, particularly if they are rude, condescending, or arrogant. Employers feel this is an accurate reflection of how candidates would treat their co-workers and direct reports,” added Greg Gostanian, managing partner for ClearRock.

ClearRock has compiled the following tips for candidates as a guide to interacting with receptionists.

  • Be polite and friendly with receptionists, but don’t be too informal. Learning and remembering their names can only help as you advance in the interviewing process.
  • Treat receptionists as you would other business colleagues, and don’t regard them as “underlings.” They are not a candidate’s secretary to help with scheduling or other personal problems. Always ask the interviewer if you need help from anyone else at the place where you interview, instead of seeking this directly yourself.
  • You can accept an offer of a beverage, but keep this simple. Don’t ask for brand names of any hot or cold beverages, or expect them to make freshly brewed coffee. And don’t expect a receptionist to run out to Starbucks to get a latte′ for you.
  • Be careful of anything you say, and expect that everything you say will get back to the interviewer. Polite, brief conversation is acceptable, but don’t ask probing questions about the company, or give unsolicited opinions.
  • Don’t talk on your cell phone in front of the receptionist, and don’t be obsessed with your Blackberry. Put your cell phone on vibrate, and if you have to take or make a call, leave the receptionist area. Don’t be overly preoccupied with your Blackberry or other wireless e-mail device. You will come across as a cold and fixated person.
  • Don’t forget to say goodbye to the receptionist if he or she is there when leaving. Failure to say goodbye to someone you have just met reflects negatively on you. You will be viewed as an impersonal, uncaring individual.


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