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Is it ok to bring home-baked cookies for the office to an interview?

We live in a very small town. It is a small office. The position I'm interviewing for is Administrative Assistant. I'm sure that the others in the office would enjoy the treat. I just don't know if it would be inappropriate.

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  • 94
    It's going to depend on the type of job you're going for. Though in most contexts it just seems weird to me. Mar 24 at 11:31
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    Very culture dependent. I am assuming hte question is asked in the US?
    – Sascha
    Mar 24 at 12:24
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    You might find this Ask A Manager post asking whether women should avoid baking for their coworkers interesting. It's about doing this when you're already working there and not for an interview but there's a lot of examples of people's personal experience with it.
    – BSMP
    Mar 25 at 17:20

14 Answers 14

212

Is it ok to bring home baked cookies for the office to an interview?

Whether it's okay or not, just don't do that. It might be a cultural thing, but do not risk appearing as trying to influence the decision either way.

Save the cookies for the welcome party, when you join. :)

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    Influence the decision, just don't look like you're influencing the decision ;) Mar 24 at 20:24
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    The whole point of an interview is to influence their decision to hire you. I'm just sayin.
    – Derek
    Mar 25 at 5:42
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    @Derek well, that's a clever use of the term, but I'd prefer "help them make their decision", and distributing cookies actually might end up hurting, not helping. :) Mar 25 at 7:49
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    As an interviewer you're putting me in an awkward position. What if I'm on a diet? Or have food allergies? Or don't like cookies? Forget the cookies until you know a bit more about the workplace.
    – John3136
    Mar 25 at 23:40
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    @Derek the point of an interview is to influence their decision to hire you based on your experience and qualifications. Using other means to influence their decision isn't likely to go over well...
    – user32882
    Mar 26 at 5:58
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Get focused. Take that time you would have been spending in the kitchen, and brush up on your Word, Excel, and PowerPoint skills and the other stuff actually related to doing the job. They're not hiring you to be a caterer. They are hiring you to be a professional admin assistant -- small town or not.

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    It could be argued in many positions providing cookies is an essential skill as an assistant. And it also shows warm, caring character. But I do agree, in most scenarios it is quite dangerous to bring interviewers in the risk of looking like taking personal advantages.
    – eckes
    Mar 25 at 10:43
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    @eckes If the company needs cookies for a staff/customer meeting, the company pays someone to buy them from a store, unless part of your job description says "bake cookies as required".
    – Graham
    Mar 25 at 12:16
  • Calm down it was a joke. But btw as a German who is rumored to be Büro rate it always amazes me how sacred the job descriptions are for the us (at least here in theory)
    – eckes
    Mar 25 at 12:19
  • Robot has unerstood. If people would like a smile they will go and pay a person to smile at them. I would consider bringing cookies a nice gesture and distantly related to the admin position.
    – Hakaishin
    Mar 25 at 17:28
  • @eckes I guess the point is that baking cookies is something far enough outside the normal job duties for an administrative assistant that, if a company actually did expect an assistant to do this, they should list it in the job description. (Plus, if they really do expect the person hired to bake cookies as part of their normal job duties, it casts doubt on whether "administrative assistant" is an accurate description of that role in the first place.)
    – David Z
    Mar 26 at 2:30
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TBH, this would be seen as strange and inappropriate 99 times out of 100.

But... if you and the people you're interviewing with know each other, at least by sight, then it might be seen as a nice gesture.

That being said, if it were me I'd forego the idea.

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15

I would agree with the other answers on here - it's not something I'd ever do and if I was interviewing someone I'd wonder about their agenda. It's not really "appropriate" since that is the crux of your question.

But

History is littered with examples of people defying etiquette and using extraordinary means to get jobs / contracts. The guy who pretended to be a delivery man to get into the CEO's office to pitch his product.

So you run a high risk of people thinking you're strange/eccentric or being suspicious of your agenda with the cookies. But you just might get the one interviewer who's impressed by this. So if you're the flamboyant type who likes doing unorthodox things and doesn't mind them being shot down 9 times out of 10 then you could give it a try.

But if you were that person I don't think you'd be asking if it's appropriate on this site...

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  • This is the answer that resonates with me personally best. I think if I knew most of the people who worked there personally, I might bring cookies (if I were any good at baking!) and joke about "bribing them into hiring me" or somesuch if I thought their humour fitted mine. But in general it'd be kinda weird. On the other hand, a big chunk of getting a job is to be memorable as well as fitting the description. Given two people who both fit the criteria, the one that brought a smile to my face or cookies to the interview is probably first in my mind. Mar 25 at 15:21
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Welcome to the forum Tangie.

My take on this is that gift-giving creates an expectation that the receiver will both feel and express gratitude. Using that form of pressure to influence a hiring decision could backfire, so I would avoid it.

As others have said, if you want to stand out from other candidates, practice any available material for the interview so you will have better answers.

Good luck in your interview!

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  • This is how I see it. It could make the interviewer hesitant to hire you, since it may seem like you "bribed" them. Personally, I avoid bringing anything to an interview. When you are hired seems like a much more appropriate time to bring treats.
    – Dnomyar96
    Mar 31 at 6:14
4

If baking cookies is an important part of the job description, then it might be a good idea to show that you have the skill. If not, I wouldn't bring cookies.

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If it's a VERY small town, you know everyone in the office (including the person who does the hiring) already and everyone accepts your appointment is a shoo-in, maybe bring the cookies.

If any of the above are even slightly in question, don't.

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I would not bring the plate of cookies. I was in graduate school (U.S.) and in our department we were expected to bring a small set of treats for our PhD defense. Years later, my wife was doing her master's defense in the math department. Despite her reluctance, I brought a similar set of treats, but the committee rejected them, not wanting to be 'bribed'. Thankfully, she got her master's degree anyway!

As for your interview, definitely do send email thank-you notes, and if it looks like a decision will take a while, postal thank-you notes can help and make a difference! This once worked for me.

Remember, occasionally they will hire you right away, but sometimes it can take almost a month. In the latter scenario, yes, you probably weren't their first choice, but taking such a job is often needful, and yes, I've done that myself, also.

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While I agree with the other answers that this would be unusual, I think you should do it, and here's why. People should be themselves in an interview, because they are going to be themselves on the job. If you're the type of person who likes to randomly bring cookies to your coworkers, you're not going to be happy working for someone who finds that unprofessional or doesn't like surprises.

Especially for a "people person" job like an administrative assistant, you should show them how you intend to interact with people on the job. You want to end the interview with them thinking of you as a colleague they would be happy to work with daily.

Now, if you're thinking of cookies as something out of character for you, or as a sort of bribe, that's different. Only do it if it accurately represents your personality.

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  • I somewhat agree, if you look for a job where you can actually relate to your colleagues and culture it won’t hurt to test out the fit*. (“Yes I mean cultural fit). But if you desperately need a job I won’t risk it.
    – eckes
    Mar 26 at 3:06
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This is highly culture-dependent. Even within the USA, cultural norms vary enormously — small-town-USA is very different from Manhattan or Hollywood.

So, my first recommendation is to ignore all the answers from people who have obviously never worked in small-town-USA (where it’s possible to identify them).

I’ve never lived in a small town, either, but here’s my opinion: don’t do it. I think there’s a pretty good chance that it will come across as an inappropriate and awkward attempt to win favor. It’s just going to make you look eccentric and a little sad.

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If you like making cookies and sharing them with people, the right time would be the first day you arrive at work after you got the job. And any time after that :-) At that point it makes a good impression and shows that you are a nice person and everyone enjoys it.

At the job interview is a very, very bad time. It looks too much like a bribe, and it won't go down well at all.

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As in most situations, when in doubt use your gut feeling.

Your gut feeling is obviously against the idea of bringing in cookies. You wouldn't be asking the question otherwise.

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    If her gut feeling told her to bring cookies, you would advise her to bring them. So this is not a logical answer. The question is: Is my gut feeling right or wrong?
    – gnasher729
    Apr 5 at 11:12
  • yes, if her gut feeling say to do so she should consider doing it. That is if she is in doubt. She know her situation better than all of us. We can advice her but at the end she do what she feel is right.
    – Atif
    Apr 6 at 0:08
-5

It depends on context, but in this case that would probably be fine. To be safe, you can ask beforehand, but you can also just bring them but you must ask for permission before handing them out.

Something like

Hi. I brought some home made cookies for everyone. Is it ok if I hand them out? They contain gluten but no nuts or other allergens that I'm aware off. If there are any concerns, I'm happy take them home again.

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    The idea of some random candidate walking around an office handing cookies to people while they're working seems a bit odd. Then again...I could go for a cookie.
    – rob
    Mar 24 at 20:03
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    @rob, Not me. I just lost 113 lbs. I'm now at a normal BMI. I appreciate the intent of cookies, but I wouldn't appreciate the sugar or the carbs. And as an employee, I would pray that a delicious-cookie person didn't work in my office. Mar 25 at 2:58
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    @StephanBranczyk congrats on the weight loss! Mar 25 at 8:06
  • My interpretation here is that it's a small town where everyone knows everyone else anyway and it's for and admin position where cookies generally are a useful relationship tool.
    – Hilmar
    Mar 25 at 15:05
-7

I see no problem with this, as long as you do your best to exclude allergens (e.g. nuts) from the recipe and notify whoever you're giving them to about any allergy risks. However, a professional company will not count this for or against you in appraising your skills. If you're doing this because you think it'll make them like you more and get you the job, then don't. If you're doing it just to be friendly, then I see no problem. For me, it would be like bringing Timbits ("donut holes" in other countries) to the interview and sharing with the interviewer, which is neither a common nor uncommon occurrence, it's up to the person's personality.

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    In the UK, bringing donut holes to an interview, or sharing any food with the interviewer, would be very uncommon. Mar 25 at 16:20

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