Hiring managers aren’t the only ones applicants need to impress when they arrive for job interviews. Candidates also should be on their toes when greeting the boss’s right-hand person, a new survey shows. Six out of 10 executives (61%) polled said they consider their assistant’s opinion important when evaluating potential new hires.
Brandi Britton, regional vice president of OfficeTeam, says: "With exposure to many different project groups and departments, administrative professionals are the ‘eyes and ears’ of the organization. Since assistants know the work environment and the boss’s management style best, they can help managers identify whether a candidate is a good fit for the company."
The survey was conducted by an independent research firm and included responses from 150 senior executives at the nation’s 1,000 largest companies.
Executives were asked, “How important is your assistant’s opinion about the job candidates you interview for positions at all levels?” Their responses:
* Very important – 21%
* Somewhat important – 40%
* Somewhat unimportant – 18%
* Very unimportant – 16%
* Don’t have an assistant – 4%
* Don’t know – 1%
“As soon as they enter the parking lot, job seekers should be on their best behavior. Everyone they encounter, from the person in the elevator to the receptionist, is someone who could potentially weigh in on the hiring decision,” said Robert Hosking, executive director of OfficeTeam. “Just as treating the waiter rudely at a restaurant creates a bad impression, being discourteous or abrupt with a company’s receptionist or office staff can reveal character – or lack of it – in job applicants.”
Hosking added, “Administrative professionals know their boss’s management style and understand the work environment, which makes them adept at identifying people who are a good fit and is why executives value their opinions.”
OfficeTeam offers these tips for making a positive impression before and after the job interview:
* Mind phone etiquette. Be friendly and professional with the “gatekeeper” when phoning the hiring manager. He or she controls access to this person and could someday be a colleague. Also, learn the assistant’s name and address him or her properly on calls or in person during the interview process. This increases the likelihood that the applicant will be put through to the hiring manager.
* Make a memorable introduction. When checking in with the receptionist or assistant prior to an interview, start a light conversation if it appears he or she isn’t too busy. Ask for materials or brochures about the company, or inquire about news uncovered while researching the organization. The discussion could leave a positive lasting impression with the assistant, and the information learned might prove helpful when meeting with the hiring manager.
* Be engaged. After checking in, an applicant shouldn't ask as though he or she is the only person in the room. Avoid snacking, chewing gum, talking on your cell phone or listening to headphones.
* Part ways positively. When the interview ends, say goodbye to those met and thank those who have assisted in any way.