Hiring managers aren’t the only ones applicants need to impress when they arrive for a job interview. Candidates also should be on their toes when greeting the boss’ right-hand person, a new survey shows. Six out of 10 (61 per cent) executives polled said they consider their assistant’s opinion important when evaluating potential new hires.

The OfficeTeam survey includes responses from senior executives from 1,000 companies.

Executives were asked, “How important is your assistant’s opinion about the job candidates you interview for positions at all levels?”

“As soon as they enter the parking lot, job seekers should be on their best behavior. Everyone they encounter, from the person in the elevator to the receptionist, is someone who could potentially weigh in on the hiring decision,” said Robert Hosking, executive director of OfficeTeam.

“Just as treating the waiter rudely at a restaurant creates a bad impression, being discourteous or abrupt with a company’s receptionist or office staff can reveal character — or lack of it — in job applicants.”

Hosking added, “Administrative professionals know their boss’ management style and understand the work environment, which makes them adept at identifying people who are a good fit and is why executives value their opinions.”

OfficeTeam offers the following tips for making a positive impression before and after the job interview:

• Mind your phone etiquette

Be friendly and professional with the “gatekeeper” when phoning the hiring manager. He or she controls access to this person and could someday be your colleague. Also, learn the assistant’s name and address him or her properly on calls or in person during the interview process. This increases the likelihood that you’ll be put through to the hiring manager.

• Make a memorable introduction

When checking in with the receptionist or assistant prior to an interview, start a light conversation if it appears he or she isn’t too busy. Ask for materials or brochures about the company, or inquire about news you uncovered while researching the organization.

The discussion could leave a positive lasting impression with the assistant, and the information you learn might prove helpful when meeting with the hiring manager.

• Be engaged

After checking in, don’t act as if you’re the only person in the room. Avoid snacking, chewing gum, talking on your cell phone or listening to your headphones.