No greeting to the receptionist? Do manners matter?

posted in: Job Doc Blog | 0

Q: I recently applied for a job and was turned down for an odd reason.  I was told by the third-party recruiter that I did not “interact with the receptionist” during my interview.  When I asked what this meant, I was told that didn’t greet her appropriately and didn’t thank her before I left.  Apparently, others did this, which made me look bad.  Have you ever heard of this?  I didn’t know this was part of the job description.  HA HA

A: Candidates are turned down for a range of reasons.  Some of the reasons surprise candidates.  I know candidates have been turned down because they were dismissive to one or more of the company representatives.  I have also observed that candidates have been turned down when they have been less than professional to a recruiter, a member of the finance team, an administrative person, a board member (who they didn’t understand was a board member), a receptionist, a CFO and a security guard.  Employers expect candidates to put their best foot forward.  Often times, this means they expect candidates to greet the receptionist warmly, send customized thank-you notes to the recruiter and others and thank the receptionist when leaving the office.  I had one candidate interview on a Saturday morning.  The security guard greeted the candidate, walked the candidate into the office suite and waited (with the candidate) for the company representative to arrive.  When the company representative arrived, he thanked the security guard for “going above and beyond” what his role required.  The company representative also noticed that the candidate did NOT thank the security guard.  It sounded like the candidate’s behavior factored into the hiring decision as this candidate was not a final candidate.

I am not sure how you “interacted” with the receptionist, but sometimes hiring managers ask a receptionist (and others) for feedback on candidates.  Manners matter and how you communicate with all of the company representatives can impact your candidacy.

Here are a few recommendations that might help next time:

  1. Greet and interact with everyone as if they could impact your hiring decision, from the receptionist to the person who runs your background check.
  2. Email a customized thank-you note to each company representative and the external recruiter (if there is one). Avoid the “Can you share this with Maria?”  Send it yourself and make sure that you include your contact information in your email signature.
  3. Arrive early so you are not rushed. Sometimes when we are rushed, we are not at our best and forget the little things like greeting someone or thanking someone.

Finally, learn from this experience.  You were given specific feedback so think about how you can improve next time.

Pattie Hunt Sinacole is a human resources expert and works for First Beacon Group in Hopkinton, an HR consulting firm. She contributes weekly to Jobs and the Boston Sunday Globe Money & Careers section.