Want to Impress In the Job Interview? Respect the Receptionist!

What matters most to employers when they review resumes or interview job candidates?

I asked several human resources director Lynette Hansen to share her top tips for job hunters:

Be prepared for common interview questions

Some interview questions are so common, so ubiquitous, that there’s no excuse for not having a well thought-out answer. Here are the questions Lynette always asks in an interview:

  • Please tell me what you know about our organization.
  • What makes you interested in this position?
  • What accomplishment makes you most proud?
  • What type of manager do you work best for and why?

Note that Lynette’s first two questions require a thorough understanding of the organization and the job at hand. That means you need to do research before the interview.

Don’t burn bridges or boast in a job interview

You don’t need to be perfect in a job interview. You can make small mistakes and still have a chance at the job.

But some mistakes are irredeemable opportunity-killers. Lynette identified two particular mistakes that automatically disqualify a candidate:

  • Talking bad about former employers.
  • Overstating accomplishments.

The lesson here? Be humble!

No matter how bad your last work experience, never bad talk the organization, your former boss, or pass colleagues.

Likewise, be modest and truthful about your own skills and accomplishments. Getting caught in a lie–or even a partial fabrication–will sink your candidacy.

Always respect the receptionist

What separates a great candidate from the competition? Many times, it’s the little things they do before or after the interview.

I asked Lynette about her best advice for job seekers. Her response wasn’t what you might expect:

“Be respectful and professional to the receptionist. It’s your first opportunity to make a good impression.”

Remember that the interview begins the moment you walk into the office. Organizations value their employees’ opinions; it’s fairly common for a hiring manager to ask existing employees about their impression of a candidate.

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This is especially true for receptionists who have a unique opportunity to observe candidates when their guard is down.