Let’s make this clear – your interview begins the moment you initiate contact with the organisation – be it a recruitment firm, or the actual company you hope to work for. How you treat others says a lot about the person you are.
A potential employer’s assessment on how you engage with people begins before they even enter the interview room. Behind closed doors, it is standard for recruitment consultants and hiring managers to ask their receptionist what they thought of a job applicant prior to meeting with them. Receptionists quickly learn how to read people – as the meet a wide variety of personalities every day and experience an even wider range of interactions. By doing this, hiring managers and recruiters can gauge how well an applicant really connects with and relates to people. If you treat the receptionist with disrespect, it is assumed that this is how you will treat everyone else – and you have failed before you have even really started.
It is always best to keep in mind that the person answering the phone, or coming to greet you may not actually be the receptionist – but a key decision maker within the business. If your persona changes because you realise you are no longer speaking to the receptionist, but a manager, it will suggest that you are not authentic – and this could also cost you the job. It is vital you make a good first impression, as it will last.
Although job interviews are stressful and nerve-wracking at the best of times, it is never an excuse to treat anybody poorly. Hiring managers and recruiters will take your nerves into account when evaluating how well you did during an interview, but if you were rude and snappy with the receptionist because you were asked to complete an application form or present ID – that simply won’t be tolerated. For any employer, the top requirements for most job applicants are “ability to work well with others” and “cultural fit”. If you cannot give others in different roles the respect they deserve – then neither of these requirements apply to you.
In short, it is always best when ringing or visiting a business (any business) to be polite to the receptionist, and not treat them like a subordinate – as he/she can make it either very easy or very difficult for you to get what you need. In addition, don’t forget to thank them when you are leaving – every interaction counts.