The Gatekeeper: First person you must impress on an #interview

By George Bernocco, CPRW

Interview day has finally arrived and you’re excited. The interview outfit is on and looking good. You have your commute mapped out and even left early in case there was traffic. Depending on the job you’re applying for, you will most likely arrive at the site and have to ask for the interviewer. There are many names for this person whom you meet first at the job site: front desk, administrative assistant, security, or even secretary. For the sake of this blog post, we will call them:


The Gatekeeper

Secretary I have been on the side of interviewing candidates before and producing my results to my direct supervisor. The process was that my supervisor would have interviewed candidates for the first interview, schedule them for a second interview with coworkers and then make a hiring decision. I was involved in the second interview stage, but I will say I was only slightly involved (as well as my coworkers). My supervisor did value our opinions, but she valued someone else’s opinion above ours: The secretary. The secretary told our supervisor who was polite, who seemed prepared and who was on time.

When you have your interview suit on, you should be prepared to treat everyone you meet that day with an extra smile and an extra “have a good day”. That includes anyone you happen to see in the parking lot, when you are walking into the interview building or office, anyone you see inside, anyone who makes eye contact with you, you should at least smile to them. The gatekeeper is who you want to show them that you are ready for the interview. I am not saying go out and buy candy to try and “buy” the gatekeeper, which would probably hurt you. I am saying greet them, introduce yourself professionally, and state that you are here for an interview at the scheduled time. Be sure to thank them for anything they do for you like call the interviewer on your behalf to let them know you are here.

If you can make yourself memorable in a good way, do it. I was once waiting for my interview and I heard the two gatekeepers discussing a movie. They were discussing Cliffhanger, which I’ve seen and I am a movie fan. One person asked the other if knew the name of the actor who was the villain. The other person did not know, and I chimed in that the actor’s name was John Lithgow. They were pleased and I smiled telling them I love movies.

Believe it or not, there are people who look down upon the “gatekeepers”. I assure you that if you don’t treat this person with respect, the interviewer will find out. Just be aware that I have heard of companies which the supervisor sits at the front desk area just to see how a prospective employee acts. Even if the gatekeeper happens to have made a minor mistake, you should make them feel comfortable. Keep in mind they could be testing you, giving you certain instructions to see how well you follow them.


About georgebernocco

George Bernocco is a Certified Professional Resume Writer and job services specialist who is proficient in career development and social networking to obtain employment.

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