Survey Shows Boss’ Assistant Can Influence Hiring Decision

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Menlo Park, Calif.
Hiring managers aren’t the only ones applicants need to impress when they arrive for a job interview. Candidates also should be on their toes when greeting the boss’ right-hand person, a new survey shows. Six out of 10 (61 percent) executives polled said they consider their assistant’s opinion important when evaluating potential new hires.

The survey was developed by OfficeTeam, a staffing service. It was conducted by an independent research firm and includes 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 percent.
  • Somewhat important: 40 percent.
  • Somewhat unimportant: 18 percent.
  • Very unimportant: 16 percent.
  • Don’t have an assistant: 4 percent.
  • Don’t know: 1 percent.

“As soon as they enter the parking lot, job seekers should be on their best behavior,” said Robert Hosking, executive director of OfficeTeam. “Everyone they encounter, from the person in the elevator to the receptionist, is someone who could potentially weigh in on the hiring decision. 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.

“Administrative professionals know their boss’ 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 the following tips for making a positive impression before and after the job interview:

  • Mind your 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 your 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 you’ll 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 you uncovered while researching the organization. The discussion could leave a positive lasting impression with the assistant, and the information you learn might prove helpful when meeting with the hiring manager.
  • Be engaged: After checking in, don’t act as if you’re the only person in the room. Avoid snacking, chewing gum, talking on your cell phone or listening to your headphones.
  • Positively part ways: When the interview ends, say goodbye to those you’ve met and thank those who have assisted you.
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