The Secret Interview

December 15th, 2011 | Interviewing | No Comments »

When you go in for an interview, the person manning the front desk will greet you and instruct you to take a seat and wait for the hiring personnel. Once in the interview, you answered every question with confidence and finesse, yet you still didn’t land the position. It could be due to the idea of the “Secret Interview.” From the moment you stepped foot in the building, unbeknownst to you, your interview had already begun. The “Secret Interview” is an integral part of the hiring process, which every applicant should be aware.

Receptionists are the “eyes and ears” of a company. They handle important information and phone calls, work closely, and form professional relationships with upper management. This relationship between receptionists and upper management proves to be an invaluable link to applicants. Generally, after the interview, management will ask the front office staff what you did while you were waiting. Make sure the only things anyone can say about you are good things!

Applicants definitely should not answer their cell phones, or try and strike up a conversation with a busy receptionist. If they aren’t busy, there is no harm in chatting about topics of relative unimportance; the weather, traffic, or the grand opening of a new restaurant in town. By no means should a prospective employee ever start a conversation with the intent of “digging” for information. Discussing salaries, other applicants, or details of corporate doings is not only inappropriate; it could also be against company policy to discuss these topics with non-employees.

The behavior exhibited in the moments before an interview is, in many instances, the “tie breaker” between otherwise equal candidates. It’s easier to be the person the company wants you to be when the hiring manager is sitting right in front of you. What’s important is who are when you think no one is watching. To ensure positive feedback from the front office staff, keep the mentality that the moment you get out of your vehicle you should behave as if you are being monitored… because you probably are!

By Megan Oldag