Adapted from a piece written by Kelly Eggers and published on
You straighten your tie and check your teeth before the big interview with your potential boss, but there’s another interview you should be prepared for — that with the company’s receptionist. He or she is the first person you meet when you arrive at a prospective employer and the last person you see before you leave. Here are some pointers receptionists would tell you if they could.
1. “I’m often underestimated.”
While visitors often regard receptionists as mere support staff, it’s a mistake to disregard them, considering their position as an office point person. They’re “the keepers of information in an office and, because of that, are in positions of power,” says Hali Chambers, a former medical receptionist. And since many recession-affected offices also have staff wearing multiple hats, the receptionist you meet could be something closer to a hiring manager. All good reasons to “be polite and professional at all times to whomever is at the desk,” says Crystal Brown-Tatum, a former corporate receptionist.
2. “I’m not your personal assistant.”
People often come into an office expecting the receptionist to leap to their assistance. “People come in asking for answers to questions that could be answered with a Google search,” says Chambers. For the best results, be courteous and brief. “There is a lot of demand on [receptionists’] attention, so the more concise you can be, the better.”
3. “I may tell a fib or two…”
You arrive for an appointment and are told it’ll be “just a few minutes” and it often isn’t the case.  The fact is, receptionists are restricted from sharing much information about how things run behind the scenes and are often forced to lie to cover that up.  It isn’t their fault that the boss is late to interview.
4. “I’m reading you like a book.”
Receptionists are often the eyes and ears of an office. It’s part of their job to know who’s coming and going and to form impressions of visitors by careful observation. That’s important to keep in mind, especially for those on a job interview. A word to the wise while waiting: Show a little respect and common sense. Striking up a conversation with a busy receptionist won’t score you any points, for example, and neither will chatting loudly on your cell. “Receptionists will be asked, and they’ll report back the time someone got there and what they did while they were waiting,” says Emily Allen, manager of communications and publications for the International Association of Administrative Professionals. It’s best to behave as though every move you make is being monitored, because it probably is, she says.