Job Interview Etiquette & Manners Everyone Should Follow
Are you preparing for a job interview? Impressing hiring managers takes more than outstanding credentials. Your resume and credentials got you to this point. Now, the recruiters are trying to gauge if you’ll be an excellent fit for the team. To ensure you make the best impact possible, there are a few etiquette tips you should know and follow.
From shaking the interviewer’s hand to sending a thank-you note, following these simple guidelines can make a big impression on your potential employer. If your interview is virtual, the majority of these tips still apply, as well as a few other considerations we’ll touch on.
So, read on to learn more about the do’s and don’ts of job interviewing etiquette. You’ll be glad you did!
Create a Fantastic First Impression on Job Interview-
Being late is a job interview faux pas, so do everything you can to arrive on schedule. As a best practice, plan to arrive at the area early and wait. You can pass the time at a nearby coffee shop or stroll around to work off jitters. If a circumstance beyond your control makes keeping the appointment time impossible, notify the potential employer immediately. Offer a sincere apology and a brief explanation before asking if the meeting can be rescheduled.
Also, being early is essential, but anything more than 10 or 15 minutes is probably too early. Another employee will have to ensure you’re comfortable and don’t need anything for an extended time.
- Be Respectful of Everyone
Be nice to everyone, regardless of position. Make “please” and “thank you” staples of your vocabulary. Look for ways to be helpful, such as holding a door open. When you’re nervous or running through interview scenarios in your head, you may zone out. Make a conscious effort to be present in the moment for every interaction.
Never underestimate the power of the receptionist or admin assistant to make or break your interview success. If you’re rude to them, even if it’s unintentional, and they mention it to the recruiter, your chances sink. After all, no one wants someone that’s not a team player in their office.
Consider the dress code at the company and dress to impress. Even if you’re interviewing in a more casual environment, wear appropriate attire. Do a little research and look at their website or LinkedIn profile. Often, they’ll have photos of employees that indicate the dress code. When in doubt, dress up rather than down. It may feel uncomfortable to wear a suit if you’re used to casual business attire, but it’s better to overdress than underdress.
Also, consider your industry and previous work experience when choosing what you will wear. For example, engineers need more durable pant fabrics that can stand up to the rigors of manufacturing or construction sites where fashion is not a goal. On the other hand, accountants should stick with “power suits” and polished shoes.
- Bring Multiple Copies of Everything
It’s a good idea to have a copy of your resume, references, and any other essential documents with you during the interview. You might think it’s unnecessary, but things can go wrong, so be sure to have copies of everything.
- Don’t Talk Negatively About Former Employers
Resist the urge to talk negatively about your previous employers or colleagues when describing your experience. Your potential new boss may see you as overly critical, which can put them off. It’s best to say that it wasn’t a great fit, or the role wasn’t what you anticipated it to be.
If you got laid off or fired, ensure that you give a professional explanation. Perhaps you were frequently late. You can reframe it as a learning experience—you’re setting yourself up for success by seeking a role closer to home without the hassle of a commute.
People are likely to remember how you carry yourself. Ensure that you’re leaving them the best possible impression. Stand up when the interviewer enters the room and offer a hand for a firm handshake. Keep your body posture open—don’t cross your arms or put them behind your head.
Ensure you’re making eye contact, as that communicates confidence. Are you dealing with multiple interviewers? When asked a question, start looking at the person who asked it. Then, briefly make eye contact with others before returning your gaze to the original asker while finishing your answer.
Fidgeting signals that you’re not confident, so don’t rub an itch on your face or scratch parts of your body during an interview. Practice sitting still in front of the mirror if you tend to be restless when nervous. If need be, bring your hands to your lap and hold them to keep them from touching your face or hair.
If you’re offered water, always accept it, as it will give you something to do with your hands. It’s also a great way to buy some time while considering your answers. Just ensure that you’re not nervously playing with it.
- Turn Off Your Cell Phone and Limit Distractions
Show your interviewer that there’s nothing more important to you than what is going on in this room. Turn off and put away your cell phone and avoid checking the clock or your watch. Try to resist gazing out the window or letting your mind wander.
No matter how friendly the interviewer seems, remember that the two of you just met. During your interview preparation, rehearse an elevator speech that answers the initial “tell me a little about yourself” question. Avoid personal life details, controversial topics, and complaints about past employers. Employers want upbeat applicants who know what shouldn’t be discussed (and what could even be illegal for employers to know).
Don’t waste time with questions quickly answered by looking through the website. Instead, spend time researching the company. You should already be able to express why the mission statement appeals to you.
If you know ahead of time who you’re interviewing with, spend some time looking them up on LinkedIn so you can get a feel for their background. You should be able to ask a few well-thought-out questions, such as:
- What is the company culture like?
- What kind of personality do you think is most successful here?
- What is a typical career path for team members in this role?
- What do you love about working here?
- Can you tell me more about a typical day/week in the position?
- What are some of the projects that I would be working on?
- Rehearse Answers to Common Questions
“Tell me about your previous role.” shouldn’t send you into a tailspin of nerves. Review frequently asked interview questions and be prepared with rehearsed answers. Consider having an outline rather than memorizing word-for-word answers.
Having bullet points ensures that you’re not thrown off if the question is worded a little differently. Also, if you’ve memorized a response, you might struggle if you veer off a couple of words. Instead, have bullet points and practice covering them all concisely in a conversational manner.
- Say Thank You and Follow Up
End your meeting on a cordial note by thanking your interviewer for the opportunity. Politely confirm or ask for details about the next steps in the process. As soon as you are out of the office, sit for five minutes and write down the names of your interviewers and any specific details you discussed. When you get home, continue to show your appreciation (and knowledge of business etiquette). Sending an email to say thank you should be a standard protocol.
Keep to your word if you said you’d send references or pass along an interesting article. If asked to check back on a specific day, do so. Don’t overwhelm the interviewer with extra calls. Doing what was agreed upon shows commitment and trustworthiness.
Virtual Interview Considerations-
If you find yourself with a virtual interview, many of the same rules apply. Present yourself as well-researched and confident, be polite, and follow up. There are a few special considerations, however.
- Check Your Connectivity and Software
Conduct a few trial runs to ensure that your Wi-Fi is sufficient to handle to interview. If you haven’t been using Zoom lately, brush up on your skills beforehand to ensure you know how to join the meeting. Enlist a family or friend to help you.
Pay attention to your background and ensure that you’re in a bright, well-lit area. Find a space that is quiet and free of distractions. Avoid jingly bracelets and don’t assume that you only need to dress from the waist up. That’s a myth about remote work. Put yourself together as if you were meeting in person, selecting your attire for a video meeting with care. Recruiters notice that you’re taking the interview seriously.
- Practice, Practice, Practice
As a last note, if you’re not comfortable with Zoom, spend some time practicing. It can be unnerving at first to see yourself on camera. If you’re by yourself, record some video of yourself giving common answers to questions and then review it.
Ace the Interview
In the end, the recruiter is looking for the best fit for the role. You may be nervous or anxious about what might happen during an interview, but if you follow these simple etiquette tips, then you should be one of the top contenders!
One of the best ways to build confidence for your interview is by practicing. Did you know that our expert coaches offer mock interviews? During your session, your coach will ask questions, provide feedback, and offer tips to improve your performance.
Along with access to our massive database of flexible jobs, StartWorkNow members get steeply discounted rates to our expert career coaching services. Find out all the ways being a StartWorkNow member can help supercharge your job search.