If everything goes to plan, you've arrived at the recommended 15 minutes before your job interview. You've checked in with the secretary or receptionist, and now, the dreadful wait for the interview - the interview you practiced for rigorously, even talking to yourself in the car on the way there. What you don't know is, this waiting period is actually a blessing.
The 15 minutes before your interview not only give you time to relax your nerves, browse through some of the company's reading material, but this precious 15 minutes also gives you a one-on-one meeting with the company "insider" - the secretary or receptionist.
He or she knows the inside scoop about the company culture and they see interviewees like you day in and out and know the what the boss likes and dislikes. It is likely that after the interview, the boss will ask the secretary or receptionist for his or her first impressions of you. This person is your golden ticket.
So how do you go about chatting with the receptionist or secretary while seeming genuine and professional so you get their stamp of approval? Here's how:
Well, be genuine
Secretaries and receptionists can smell behavior that is "fake" or not genuine. If you get the job, this is the first and last person you'll see at the company every day. That being said, it's important to offer a genuine greeting (in and out the door) and smile.
Find a conversation starter
Unless they're busy, secretaries and receptionists are usually happy to partake in a human conversation (after being glued to the phone all day).
Try this. "Hi I'm here to see Mr. Jennings for an interview." "He'll be right with you." "Thank you so much for your help. So how long have you worked here?" Simple, polite, and approachable.
Or try to find common ground with topics like current events or the weather. Once conversation takes place naturally, feel free to ask about the work culture or any tips he or she can give you about interviewing with the boss. OR, without creeping (this is key), if you notice anything, funny, peculiar, or personal on their desk, comment on it or ask about it.
Real-life example: While waiting for an interview, simply commenting on photos of the secretary's children resulted in, not only in a great conversation, but she also provided tips on the boss's likes and dislikes. I later found out she put in a good word on my behalf.
Not a talker? Ask for reading material
Not all secretaries and receptionists are chatty. Rare, but it happens. In this case, remain polite and ask for any company reading material. You've still made a good impression because it shows your invested in the company. This also gives you good talking material in your interview. Interviewers like applicants who have done their research.
DO NOT stay on your phone
DO NOT sit there on your phone on Facebook updating your status about the big interview. 1. It's unprofessional and leaves nothing good to say about your first impression with the secretary or receptionist. 2. You don't know who's looking at your Facebook status (for all you know, the secretary or receptionist could be doing their homework on you right in front of you). You'd look pretty silly if he or she reported to the boss that all you were doing was tweeting the whole time.
Don't forget to say thank you and goodbye
Whether the interview went poorly or great, make sure you make time to say thank you and goodbye. Don't be afraid to throw in, "I hope to see you soon!" Enthusiasm and positivity are always received well and you want to leave with as great of an impression as you had when you came in.
Thank you in the corporate world can go a long way so make sure you say it to everyone from your boss, to your peers, to the secretary, to the janitor. Why? It's kind, the right thing to do, and you never know who's buddy-buddy at the company.