Posts tagged ‘Receptionist Test’

Remember: Beware the Receptionist Test

The most popular post on this blog is one from 2008 about how candidates fail the Receptionist Test. It happens all the time.

The Receptionist Test is an unexpected assessment of how the candidate deals with ordinary staff during the interview. It is effective because it is unexpected. The key point to remember about the Receptionist Test is:

…your interview starts as soon as you enter the building. Companies can (and will) use every means to make sure that  you are the best qualified person for the role.

On his great blog about leadership, thoughtLEADERS, Mike Figliuolo confirms a time when a “sure thing” candidate failed the Receptionist Test:

When I was a consultant, we regularly interviewed a slew of candidates on Fridays. The first person they met was the receptionist. From there, they’d interview with eight or nine of us and we’d hold a “consensus meeting” at the end of the day to determine if we were going to make a job offer.

One exceptional candidate (let’s call him “Bill”) did an amazing job in all eight of his interviews. He was brilliant, charming, and energetic. All of us were excited about him as we entered the consensus meeting. Some of us were already fighting over who would get him on their team first. As we discussed his glowing performance, it was abundantly clear we’d be making him an offer. We prepared to close the discussion and asked “Does anyone else have anything to offer on Bill?”

“I do.”

“Go ahead.” said the meeting moderator.

“When he came in, I was on the phone. He tapped his pen impatiently on my desk indicating I should stop talking on the phone and help him. I asked my caller, who happened to be the office director, to wait a moment. The conversation then went like this:”

“Can I help you?”

“Yeah. I’m here to interview. Don’t you know who I am?”

“I’m sorry sir. I don’t.”

“Geez. Look in your paperwork. Bill. Bill Farfegnugen. Isn’t it your job to receive guests properly?”

“Yes. Please have a seat. They’ll be with you shortly.”

“Aren’t you going to take my coat and get me a cup of coffee?”

“Sure. I’d be happy to. Cream and sugar?”


“After I got him his coffee, I showed him to his first interview. I’m sorry but I simply can’t see this guy in front of our clients. I can’t recall the last time someone was that rude to me.”

Needless to say, Bill didn’t get a job offer. He probably wonders why not to this very day because he knew he smoked his interviews. Hey Bill – news flash – she’s not just a receptionist… Her name is Lois and she takes really good care of the people around her. Had you done the same, you might have gotten the job.

Read the entire posting here:
Also – see the original Receptionist Test post:

23 April 2011 at 12:29PM 1 comment

How NOT to Get a Job: Be a Jerk!

This blog has quoted Evil HR Lady Susan Lucas a few times. Recently, she posted more great wisdom about the job searching process. She has observed that some people are (dare we say it?) less than polite:

I got an e-mail today asking a generic question about why the writer could get interviews, but was unable to land the job. When you send me an e-mail, you get an auto response:

Thanks for your e-mail. Unfortunately, I cannot answer all of the questions I receive.  If I do answer your question, I will send you an e-mail.

Everyone, including the Nigerian Princesses and the people from the British Lottery gets this e-mail.  Most people, I presume, think, “Oh, that makes sense.  I hope she answers my question.”

But, not this person.  Instead I got the following response (from the candidate):


Ahh, to be screamed at by someone who wants me to do her a favor.  Makes me feel all warm and fuzzy.  Doesn’t it have that same effect on  you?  In fact, I suspect my e-mail inbox will soon be overflowing with requests for this woman’s contact information so you can offer her a job.  Just think, she can do sales for you.  “I WANT YOU TO BUY THIS PRODUCT!!!!! MAKE IT A PRIORITY!”  Your clients will love her.

But, because I’m nice, I’ll answer the original question:  You’re not getting the job because you’re a self-entitled jerk.

Now, there are lots of people who are able to get the interview, but not able to land a job who are not jerks.  They either need to work on their interview skills or have just been having a run of bad luck.  But, I suspect that if you’re willing to be pushy and obnoxious to me, you’re willing to do the same to other people.

EXACTLY! (Pardon the caps!)

Time to consider the First Law of NotJobs: Interview behavior is best behavior.

One of the first questions we ask as hiring managers and recruiters is, “Can I work with you?” If that question is answered satisfactorily, we’re happy to invite you participate further in the hiring process. If you are rude, or if you act like a jerk, you kill your chance of having a successful job search.

The Evil HR Lady goes on to list seven tips about How Not to be a Jerk. The first one should be familiar to longtime NotJobs readers:

  • Be rude or dismissive to the front desk person.

This is something I’ve mentioned before: Beware the Receptionist Test.

So – the lessons here are many. If you don’t want to get a job, be a jerk.

Find the Evil HR Lady here: The full article is Check out the whole article, and the comments.

7 November 2010 at 1:41AM Leave a comment

Tip: Beware the Receptionist Test

So – you finally find the office building where your interview is going to be held. You’re interested in the company and the position, and truth be told, you really need this job. You’re a computer professional, and you want to make a great impression on your future employer.

Once you show up, you’re ready to start selling yourself, but you’re asked to wait. While you’re waiting, the receptionist has a minor tech support emergency, and she asks you for some technical help. You stand up to help the damsel in distress. But that’s when it starts going downhill.

A company in England does this as an interview test. It doesn’t go well for the candidates. Here’s one poor toad’s experience:

John was a lot less level-headed. His task should’ve been the simplest of all — the receptionist couldn’t print a document. Totally understandable when the printer is turned off and all of the lights on its display were totally dark. First, he hit Control+P, selected the printer, and clicked “OK,” and confirmed it wasn’t working. His solution? Hit Control+P harder to make sure the printer really felt it. For 20 minutes, he kept increasing the force of his typing and mouse clicks, finally pounding his fist on the desk and giving up.

John probably didn’t get the job.

One big point to remember is that your interview starts as soon as you enter the building. Companies can (and will) use every means to make sure that  you are the best qualified person for the role.

For more on avoiding the Receptionist Test, start with Jake Vinson’s article in Tales from the Interview. Then check out the commentary by Andy Lester at the Working Geek. Then, you may want to finish off by reviewing my second post on this topic:

Good luck!

14 November 2008 at 12:41AM 3 comments

My Core Ideas

1. "I can't tell you the best way to get a job - because there is no one best way. After 21 years of recruiting, I CAN share things I've seen candidates do to guarantee they DIDN'T get the job."

2. "Most companies don't realize how their recruiting process impacts their candidate pool, and their business. Attention to simple things will result in big improvements."

About the Author

Troy Bettinger, SPHR is a Denver Recruiter, Public Speaker, HR Metrics Analyst and Human Resources Leader who has been recruiting in corporate and municipal environments since 1991.

He specializes in the complete hiring process: defining, sourcing, recruiting, testing, interviewing, offering and orienting new hires. He's also well versed in strategic human resources, college recruiting, diversity recruiting, AAP, EEO, ATS integration, recruiting metrics, social media, recruiting leadership, training and employment branding.


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