By Kari Paul
Be careful how you treat certain employees if you’re currently looking for a job
Handshakes are important, but so are many other body language factors.
There is one misstep for job-seekers that’s viewed even worse than arriving late.
When interviewing for a new job, your assessment can begin long before you shake the hiring manager’s hand. In fact, the most important person to impress — or, at least, one of them — may be the one sitting at the reception desk.
The biggest mistake a candidate can make at an interview is being rude to the receptionist, according to a new study from recruiting software Jobvite, with 86% of nearly 1,000 hiring managers saying it is a deal-breaker. Among the other no-nos: 71% of hiring managers said checking a phone is a deal-breaker for candidates and 52% said lateness would automatically disqualify them.
Etiquette expert Elaine Swann advises clients to go beyond simply being polite and to strike up a conversation with the receptionist to gain their support. “They are the first point of contact and they can make or break your opportunity to be employed there,” she said. “Receptionists also tend to be the backbone of many companies, so their opinion is highly valued by employers.”
Still, interviewees should take care not to arrive too early, Swann said, as that can be uncomfortable for the receptionist and interviewer alike. You want to make an impression, but nobody likes a high maintenance job applicant who wants to know where the restroom and is in dire need of a glass of water or feels the receptionist should fetch him or her a cup of tea. Get to the office 15 minutes in advance to be safe, she advised.
And don’t let nerves before the interview or exhilaration at having done a great job afterwards get the better of your manners. Upon departure, be sure to acknowledge the receptionist again and thank them for their time, Swann said.
Recruiters have witnessed a variety of odd behavior, the Jobvite study found, with 54% saying they’ve spoken with a candidate who didn’t know what company they were interviewing for and 27% saying they have seen a candidate cry during an interview. An additional 27% had witnessed sexist attitudes expressed by a colleague towards a candidate and 32% had seen sexist attitudes expressed by the actual candidate.
Being careful of the kind of language you use when answering questions, Swann said. “A lot of people get caught up in the small talk,” Swann said. “They don’t realize in many cases it is also part of the interview so it’s important to remember not to become too casual. Make sure whatever you say lines up with basic HR guidelines.”
Sometimes what you don’t say reveals volumes. Body language is also extremely important to recruiters, a recent survey from staffing firm OfficeTeam found. The study of 300 senior managers showed keeping strong eye contact was the most important component, followed by facial expressions, posture, and handshake.
Aside from the interview, the resumé is the most important component of the job search, with 92% of recruiters in the Jobvite study saying it’s the biggest factor in hiring. But there are some pitfalls here too: You should have two pages maximum for most jobs, and you should be able to capture this in the past 10 years, job experts advise, citing age discrimination in the workplace.