When you get a job interview you are no doubt excited and nervous about your opportunity and the possibilities that the job presents. So when you get to the location and introduce yourself to the Receptionist, there are a number of options you have once the Receptionist says, “I’ll let them know you are here, please have a seat.” What do YOU do with this time?
Different people will do different things with this period of time. While one person just sits there, someone else might actually stand up and read framed certificates or mission statements on the walls. And perhaps one candidate might be cramming reading their notes while another is pondering their weekend plans at the cottage.
While there are few absolute right or wrong ways to spend your time in the Reception area, you should expect to wait a little upon your arrival. My advice to any job seeker is to realize that the interview may have already begun the moment you open the door to the building, and in some cases, the moment you are spotted parking your car or walking up the sidewalk if you can be seen from an office. And by realizing the interview may have already begun, I mean your approach is being watched, and your time in Reception is being observed and evaluated.
Many Receptionists share their opinions of candidates with Interviewers after candidates leave. If you were rude, loud, polite, said something offensive, or transformed yourself in the washroom etc., all of this can be reported and taken into consideration affecting an interviewers ultimate decision. And while it happens in smaller companies more than large ones, the person conducting the interview may be relieving the Receptionist for a quick washroom break when you arrive. Make the mistake of having a dismissive attitude with the person behind the desk because they are, “just the Receptionist after all”, and you may have just revealed much more or yourself than you ever intended and given the interviewer a glimpse of the real you. Strike one!
You’ll often hear the advice about arriving early for the interview, and that’s because it’s good advice. You should allow for delays you cannot control such as traffic. Arriving 45 minutes early isn’t a good idea, but 10 – 15 minutes is sufficient. The best time to walk in and announce your arrival depends largely on how well you wait. I myself have in the past arrived at a company 30 minutes early when it was 120 kilometers away and what I did was first find the location of the company, and then have a drive around the town I was in just absorbing information like how many vacant stores were on the main street, and picking up some local atmosphere.
But back to the actual Reception area. For some people, just sitting there quietly, concentrating on breathing and exhaling, calming one’s nerves is a good idea. If you prepared well, this time to just collect your thoughts and relax may be exactly what you need to mentally prepare yourself for the interview to come.
At one job I had in the past, I went into the washroom to find a man naked from the waist up. He was sloshing water around in the sink, washing his face and torso, while his white shirt and tie were hung on a hook nearby. Laid out was his toothbrush and deodorant and I gave him a wide berth as the water in the sink was going everywhere. 10 minutes later I observed this fellow sitting very calmly in our Reception area, looking polished, calm and collected. Outside the heat was unbearable, and being a larger fellow, I imagine he had planned this all in advance to avoid sweating and being conscious of this. Hey if it works why not?
You can use this time to make a good impression if you choose. Engaging in some positive conversation if the situation permits this with employees in the Reception area is a good way to make an impression. Done correctly, you may appear to be natural, but it’s a well-orchestrated maneuver or strategy to position yourself for what you hope is positive feedback provided to a decision-maker.
One thing you should avoid is any activity that can undermine your confidence. This isn’t for example, the right time to mentally go over all the things you wanted to bring to the interview. IF you realize that you have left something at home, what good would that do you in the here and now except to cause you to fret.
Reminding yourself to smile, shake hands, walk confidently and use your manners is never a bad idea ever if these things don’t come naturally. If you are an older person or maybe out of shape, small things like straightening your shoulders, walking upright not bent over and maybe even pulling in your stomach a little may be good for you too in crafting the image that will help you most. And it’s a good time to check all your buttons are done up as well as your zipper, blow your nose, check your breath etc. Checking all these little things now lets you focus on the interview content better.
Breathe deeply, be self-confident, do your best to enjoy the interview to come and see it as your first chance to make a good impression. Now go get that job offer!
Written By Kelly Mitchell
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