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Candidate Help & Advice

Rules for Protecting Your Brand in the Waiting Room

Everything counts when it comes to finding a job – and your demeanor in the waiting room while you wait for your interview is no different.  I’ve always asked the company receptionist for their opinion on a candidate they’ve met. While they haven’t interviewed the candidate, they are certainly in a position to observe a candidate’s behavior, body language, and attitude.

Was the candidate friendly to the receptionist? Did they sit there huffing and puffing impatiently while they waited for me? Did they nervously lurk around the reception desk?  All of these things can matter!

  1. Introduce yourself in an energetic and friendly way to the receptionist and inform him/her of your appointment. Be calm and confident.
  2. If offered a refreshment, I would recommend that you decline. Do you really want the added stress of worrying about spilling something on yourself or having to awkwardly carry your cup around? If you really want it – stick with water or tea (drinks that won’t affect your breath). And make sure to properly dispose of your cup – throw it away or offer to put it in the dishwasher.
  3. Have a seat and wait patiently – don’t hover around the reception desk or stand around. The receptionist has to sit there on display and usually enjoys their personal space.  Stay out of the way and take a seat – that’s what they’re there for!
  4. Sit properly with good posture, don’t put your feet on the furniture. I’ve seen several candidates put their feet on the coffee table of the waiting room – it’s unprofessional and borderline rude.
  5. Don’t sit there playing with your smart phone, or even worse – talking on it.  This is the time to make sure your phone is shut off for the interview.  You can check-in in the parking lot.
  6. Act friendly and make eye contact with anyone who may walk by.  The waiting room can be a high-traffic area and a great place for you to judge the culture of the company.  Dive right in and exchange pleasantries with those with whom you come in contact.
  7. Don’t keep checking your watch – they’re coming!

Yes – even your performance in the waiting room impacts your personal brand.  Follow these waiting room rules and you’re well on your way to protecting your image and leaving a positive, lasting impression on the people you’ve met.


Mike Spinale is a corporate Human Resources leader at a healthcare information technology company located outside of Boston, Massachusetts and is an adjunct professor at Southern New Hampshire University. He has over eight years of experience in HR and management including career counseling, recruitment, staffing, employment branding, and talent management.  Mike has dedicated his HR career to modern views on the field – HR is not about the personnel files – it’s about bringing on the best talent, ensuring they’re in the right seat, and keeping them motivated and growing in their careers. In addition, Mike is the author of the CareerSpin blog where he offers advice and opinion on job search, personal & employment branding, recruiting, and HR. Mike is a certified Professional in Human Resources (PHR) and holds a Master of Business Administration degree from Babson College. He is also a board member of the Metro-North Regional Employment Board, a board which sets workforce development policy for Boston’s Metro-North region, and an active member of the Society for Human Resource Management and the Northeast Human Resources Association.