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Career tip: Who you must chat with while waiting to interview


(Business) When you’ve made it to a job interview, there’s someone who holds the keys to the magical kingdom that is your future job – here’s how to tap into this goldmine.


Why the receptionist is key

One of the most nerve-wrecking events in your “job life” is the interview process. Whether you are interviewing for a job or are interviewing for a potential client, you are selling yourself or your brand to an important person.

So you’ve done all of your research, you’ve crafted the perfect resume or pitch, and you’re at the office on time for your meeting. It seems as though you’ve done all you can for a successful meeting, right? – Not so fast.

While waiting for your meeting, you could easily sit in the reception area and go over your ideas, check your phone, or do anything else to kill time. However, one thing that most people don’t think to do is utilize a very valuable resource – the receptionist.

Talk to the real company insider

Authors Tim Hurson and Tim Dunne write about the importance of conversing with the receptionist in their book “Never Be Closing”. The receptionist is the eyes and ears of an organization, meaning that a conversation with them could be very beneficial to your interview.

After checking in for your interview, it is a good idea to first sit down and seek awareness of your surrounding. Any organizational communication class will tell you that a lot can be understood about the culture of a company through their artifacts, or what they have around the office. Taking into account plaques on the wall, mission statements on their business cards, or photos around the office can bridge the gap towards a connection with a potential employer or client; and asking the receptionist to give you details on these artifacts will prepare you to bring them up in the interview.

When approaching the receptionist, make sure that he or she is not too busy and is available for conversation. Picking their brains about the organization is brilliant because it is done so rarely. Along with inquiring about the company artifacts, Hurson and Dunne recommend asking questions such as:

  • “What’s the biggest department or division in this location?”
  • “Is everyone always this (relaxed, friendly, energized, 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?”

Asking these questions will not only get you a notch above the others as far as knowledge and preparedness goes, but simply talking to the receptionist will set you apart from the competition. Sometimes the interviewer will ask the receptionist what they thought of the interviewee, and showing your personality and interest will only make that answer more positive.

The BEST thing you can do…

As a former receptionist, I can attest to the importance of conversation. Those coming in for an interview would have to speak with me beforehand, and it was apart of my job to take note of their personality and demeanor. Those who showed excitement and positivity about applying would receive a vote of praise; while those who acted like they were there to scrape the bottom of the barrel of jobs did not receive as nice of a Post It note on their application.

Hurson and Dunne say that during the interview process, the best thing you can be is curious. So make sure the next time that you are in this situation, you utilize all of your resources by talking to the receptionist and learning all you can about the culture of the organization.

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  1. Pingback: Lunchcruit: Enjoy a free lunch with a side of dream job opportunities - AGBeat

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