The Waiting Area

The interview is usually the first chance the interviewer has to see the person behind the voice and the resume. It’s not unusual for the interviewer to take a look at you from their office window before you meet. Keep in mind that a silent conversation is occurring between you and whoever has sight of you. The receptionist, employees walking through the building and certainly the interviewer are receiving your messages and forming opinions about you through those silent messages.

Your behavior in the waiting area is a critical portion of the interview process and most job seekers aren’t aware of what is taking place. You are giving yourself another advantage over competing applicants by using the time in the waiting area to deliver positive messages.

The parking lot of many small to mid-sized companies can easily be seen from the building and on occasion the person interviewing you is in the lobby or looking out their office window as you arrive. From the moment you enter the parking lot till you leave the parking lot, you are sending silent messages to everyone around you. Make sure the messages are positive!

It’s a bad idea to apply your makeup, comb your hair or finish getting dressed in the companies parking lot. Stop somewhere before you get to the meeting site, get out of the car and look yourself over from head to toe. Look in the mirror and make sure your hair and makeup is in place. Also make sure your nose is clean. A dirty nose can be a distraction and very embarrassing.

If you have a childcare provider, call and tell them that you’re going into a meeting and your phone will be silenced. Tell them you can be reached via a text message explaining the problem or by leaving a voice mail. There are usually moments in the interview where the interviewer steps out allowing you a quick minute to check for messages.

Once you arrive at the interview site, introduce yourself to the receptionist and let her direct you to the seating area. Avoid seats in the corner of the room. Choose a seat that makes you visible. Considering you’ll probably meet with more than just the interviewer, you want to be visible to as many people as possible. Treat each person that passes by as someone you’re going to meet during the interview process. You want them to see you and be influenced by the positive messages you’re sending.

I can remember hearing coworkers returning from the lobby making comments to the interviewer such as “she looks like a real pro” or “I hope you don’t hire her, she looks hung over.” In nearly every case, the applicant that received the negative comment didn’t get invited for a second interview.

Pause for a moment. I want you to imagine yourself sitting in the lobby as your potential coworkers walk past you. What kind of messages are you sending? Would the silent conversation between you and the people walking past be positive or negative?

Make a habit of sitting with your feet flat on the floor, your back straight and avoid crossing your legs. Choose a magazine that’s related to the industry with which the company is involved or pick a general business magazine. This will show your interest in the company. I love to read about self-improvement so I usually bring along a paperback book about career growth. Stay away from books on the subjects of sexuality, politics and religion. These are hot button topics that should be left outside the work environment.

As you glance up from your reading, any eye contact you make should be accompanied with a smile and a greeting. A “I just won the lottery smile” is too much. A “passing a stranger in the grocery store” smile works well. Maintain the smile until the persons eyes are off of you to show that the smile is genuine. I’m sure you’ve seen people smile at you till you walk past and the smile gets erased. It makes you think “FAKE.”.

All of these gestures and actions speak that you are professional, knowledgeable and can be an asset to the company.

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