Education Career Services

February 8, 2010

A Receptionist by Any Other Name

Occupying a hiring position for many years, I rely on nonconventional ways to filter through candidates quickly (on paper and in person).  Place yourself in my shoes for a minute and imagine the wasted time it takes to review a hand-load of under-qualified non-motivated people looking for a paycheck for doing as little as possible. 

With this said, how many readers fall into the pushing-the-envelope category?  I did see a few hands begin to rise.  Proving yourself as a viable and respectful candidate begins before you leave the house or submit an application.  The amount of preparation and diligence can’t be fooled; it’s obvious for the trained executive.  With this said, if you are not serious, don’t waste anyone’s time, even your own.

Back to the basics for a second; there I was, a Vice President of Operations with a sudden burden to interview and hire quality employees.  Not only is the chore to secure innovative employees time consuming, I have to perform my regular ten hour responsibilities.  Given this, shortcuts are not only common, they are demanded.  A primary shortcut many executives and hiring managers take advantage of is right in front as you open the door.

For this segment, we will summarize the “pre-interview” impression and rapid filtering system known globally as “receptionist respect” (Okay, so I just came up with that term).  In other words, even before you meet me, you meet me through the eyes and ears of my receptionist.

Receptionists are informed to provide feedback to specific preset questions only she (or he) knows.  These questions assist in the decision making process and are scored before the candidate and hiring executive shake hands.  Let’s take a sample peek at a few questions YOU are being graded upon BEFORE the interview begins.  This is not an all-inclusive list and varies per company (but that’s a little secret you did not hear from me):

          * Was the candidate respectful to you?  This includes a proper greeting and smile
          * Did the candidate arrive at the proper time and appear prepared
          * Did the candidate possess a positive attitude
          * Is the candidate dressed appropriately
          * On a scale of 1-10, what is your overall impression

The above are a few items used by many hiring executives to get a “first” impression—before the official first impression.

So, what do you do and how can you transform this information into your advantage?  The easiest and most effective way to form a pre-first impression is to be respectful to everyone you encounter—remember behavior and attitude can be developed from the parking lot to the elevator and to any chance intersection.

Breaking it down: keep a solid attitude and display professional courtesy at ALL times.  You may be surprised at how influential those you meet in typical settings are in the hiring process loop.  You may also be surprised at the number of well-qualified candidates who lost the edge due to not preparing for the pre-first impression. 

You DO have the power to shape your career destiny.

Always available to help,



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