Waiting Interview

Dos And Don’ts When Waiting To Begin Your Interview


So, you got the interview for the job of your dreams. You check in with the receptionist and they ask you to have a seat. What you do in the next few minutes can be the deciding factor on your future with the company.

There are interviewers who regularly ask their receptionists what the prospective employee was doing while waiting to be called in. According to CEO Andy Ory, first impressions are generally formed while the applicant is waiting in the lobby, and they become relevant to the hiring decision between 5% and 10% of the time.

Tips When Waiting For An Interview

If the receptionist divulges you were talking on the phone or catching up on Facebook gossip, it might be the end of the road for you. This list of tips will help you, the job seeker, be perceived as ready, alert, and well prepared for the interview:

DO Sit Calmly And Quietly

Sometimes our nerves get the best of us, especially before an interview. But the most important thing to do is to stay calm and smile. Try your best to give off friendly, non-anxious vibes. Avoid channeling your nervousness into talking. No one likes a chatterbox outside the interview room.

DO Ask For Company Materials To Read

Asking to read a company newsletter or something that displays the company’s core values will definitely get you some points with the interviewer. It shows that you are interested in the company and you are serious about working for them.

DO Look Over Your Notes, Resume, References, And/Or Portfolio

If you’re not calm enough to read, quietly look over your materials such as your resume or references one last time to make sure everything is in order and correct. This will show your interviewer that you pay attention to detail.

DON’T Begin Reading Unrelated Material

While you’re waiting for your interview, it’s not the time to catch up on your favorite book. While some employers may not mind if you bring your own book or magazine to read, try to avoid it to be on the safe side. You also don’t want to offend anyone with any material you may be reading.

DON’T Get On Your Phone

If you wouldn’t take out your phone and start texting inside the actual interview, why would you do it outside the door? This is probably the quickest way to get the boot from the list of potentials. The interviewer will probably not take you seriously if he walks out to see you tweeting/texting away on his or her time.

DON’T Start Listening To Your Music

Though sometimes music can help calm your nerves, you must resist the urge to pull out your headphones. This could be seen as disrespectful to your interviewer. If you do need music to help your calm down, listen to it on the drive over. This might help relax you and prepare you for the interview.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

Shannon Moham

Shannon Moham is a recent journalism graduate from the University of Central Oklahoma. Writing, blogging, and event planning is what she sees for her career.


  1. I had an interviewee show up at my office 30 minutes early for her interview. I was in a P&L meeting, about 5 minutes after her scheduled interview time she caused a scene and stormed out. As I was walking down the hallway I heard her screaming obscenities and actually came back for a repeat. She felt she waited much too long. Clearly she wasn’t ready for a job. It’s amazing how job seekers will email their resume multiple times, yet can’t wait longer than 5 minutes to be seen. Patience is a virtue.

  2. Do politely chat with the secretary. Bosses do talk to them, so be nice.

    Your interview starts when you pull into the parking lot. I’ve heard that some places check your car to see if there is a mess inside.

  3. This is mostly common sense items although I like the idea about asking for company materials to read. I always leave my celphone in the car and bring nothing with me but my portfolio and a few copies of my resume.

  4. It must be a tough world where you live, if one is not allowed to read a book or make a call just to get a job. I would never want to work for a company that expects me to sit quietly while I am waiting at the reception and where managers are asking receptionists (no offence) to describe my behaviour.

    • Do you have a job because really you should know you shouldn’t be speaking on your cell phone in the reception while waiting to be interviewed….amateur

  5. For me, it’s writing that works. While sitting and waiting for interview to happen, it is quite difficult to stay calm and only to be just observant to the surroundings. At that point, I usually take out my diary and start writing about just anything… it could be either any particular topic of interest, or any observation while coming to the venue or just anything. It has greatly helped me to control my movements, keep myself calm and focus myself on a particular work. It also allows me to simultaneously concentrate on the gravity of the situation and be prepared for it. Although it can’t be generalized but it has worked very well for me!

  6. I don’t expect to be kept waiting long enough to do any of these. If I have time to do any of these, you aren’t on schedule, and if the hiring manager can’t be bothered to be on time for one of the more important parts of his/her job, then I can’t be bothered to be there. I leave.

    • Really, Katie? You would leave? Obviously, you are not unemployed, or you are sitting on a mountain of cash. I’ve been unemployed for almost a year. I’ve had a total of three interviews, not counting four interviews at staffing agencies. I’ve waited 90 minutes to see a doctor, so waiting 20 or 30 minutes for a job interview doesn’t seem too burdensome. If you were contemplating selling your bedroom furniture to pay your car insurance, I think you would feel differently.

    • Ms. Katie:

      Your attitude is most likely why you do not make a $500,000.00 annual salary. I would not hire you.

      Respectfully Submitted. BT

    • I’ve also gotten antsy when it comes to this. A few years ago I rejected a job because the boss/hiring manager no-called, no-showed three times when they set up the interview. I’ve kept this in mind when performing my own interviews. I hated it when it happened to me, and I’ve always tried to be respectful of others.

      With this in mind, I give myself a buffer of 15 minutes before interviews. It allows me to finish up any previous experiment or meeting I’m in so I can get the interviewee within 5 minutes. I also have someone inform the interviewee of what’s going on so they are a little more patient, respectful, and knowledgeable of company operations.

      Really, sometimes walking out is about demanding respect or not wanting to work for a company with really shoddy operations. Other times it’s about the interviewee being priggish. It’s a fine line.

  7. As usual, I’m astounded about what HR people have convinced hiring managers is important as opposed to, say, being able to do the job for which you’re being interviewed.

  8. As a business owner of a small R&D firm, I like to see what others look for in their prospective employees and compare it with what I look for.

    This list makes sense. I tend to look at how people spend those few minutes. It gives me an idea of how they like to spend their time. Are they productive? How are they relieving their anxiety? Are they playing video games on their phone? How about reading the news on their phone?

    Generally what I like to see is that they are reading stuff that is relevant to the job, the company, their passions (so I can compare with how they will work with other employees in the company), etc. In my field I don’t want just a mindless work drone, so seeing their passions and that they have interest in the world that overlaps with what they are seeking is important. It can mean the difference between someone that works on autopilot and someone that thinks outside the box to get the job done creatively and efficiently.

    I’ll know if they checked up on the company, the job requirements, and other standard things when I interview them by the answers. It’s the little moments like these that tell me who they are when not on stage and the boss is the audience.

    • If I were to be on my phone it would be because I WAS checking out your company online or possibly working on proposal, manuscript, or book reviews, which are all part of R&D. My point is that unless someone is acting just crazy while waiting, the observers often have no idea whether the person waiting is being productive or not. Humans are terrible at mind reading and there are far too many of us who think they understand body language because they read something or saw a show about it.

      • See, that’s what I’m talking about! Productivity! ;)

        I often don’t actually ask my secretary to keep an eye on people. It’s more like, “What do I see as I’m walking down the hall to meet them?” The only thing I ask my secretary to do is let them know if I’ve got myself trapped for more than a few moments. The way I see it, they have better things to do with their time than babysit.

        On my end, I try very hard not to waste anyone’s time. This often means blocking out the 15 minutes before an interview as a buffer so I’m not trapped in an experiment, with a client, or in a meeting. If I’m with another employee, I’ve often asked someone to bring the interviewee down — not that I’m putting them on the spot, but it gives the interviewee a clear view of what we’re working with (or sometimes not working with). Hopefully it lets them relax a little and know how they can fit in.

  9. As a career coach, I agree… with one minor exception. I tell my clients to bring the company materials with them. If you see something new in the office that seems relevant, certainly pick it up. If it is material that is on the Web site, you should already have that with you. It shows your preparation. Also, printing out the information on regular paper allows you more space to take notes on the material.

    Liam Hickey | Willpower Careers

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