15 Tips for Perfect Job Interview Etiquette
Posted by Katie Ostoich on August 30, 2012 at 1:19 PM
The next logical step after graduating from college is obviously, getting your first job. Or at least it used to be obvious. Before the economy collapsed, I was a naïve college girl who thought companies would just be handing out jobs left and right like beer vendors at a baseball game. “Job offers! Get your ice-cold job offers here!” And then, well, sh*t hit the fan. Job openings, let alone eventual offers, are far and few between. So how do you ensure that you stand out from the crowd and actually get your first job? Have good manners, of course!
Job interview etiquette is just like having good table manners or knowing another country's customs. These small subtleties add a touch of class to the whole affair and make you look good.
Think about it this way. What kind of impression would a guy make on his first date if he showed up with flowers and opened the car door for his date? Things might still work out if he just drove up and honked the horn, but most women I know would definitely be impressed with a guy who showed up with some class.
Many of job interview courtesies may be second nature to you; but, it's still good to go over them, because you'd be surprised how you are judged on the little details. Nearly one-third (32%) of chief financial officers recently polled said candidates are more likely to slip up during the interview than at any other time during the application process. Little subtleties aren't so little; so don't take anything for granted. In Episode 4 of GirlsGuideTo…TV, we see what not to do. Here’s what you should do to ace that interview:
1. Plan to Arrive 15 minutes early
You never want to arrive late for your job interview. If your meeting is at 10, plan to pull into the parking lot at 9:45. This allows you time to figure out parking, spend a minute or two catching your breath and calming in the car, and then ample time to find where you’re supposed to go. You’re already going to be stressed – don’t let the fear of being late add on to that.
2. Make sure your cell phone is off
Not vibrate. Off. Better yet? Leave it in the car. There is nothing more important right now than your interview.
3.Give people your business card
If you have one, give the interviewers your card. The main reason for this is so people can remember your name and pronounce it right. Also, it's easier to follow up with you later.
See, resumes are stored in a database or file cabinet when your interview is over. If the hiring manager likes you, your business card might lay on their desk in full sight long after you're gone.
4. Look people in the eye
Body language is an extremely important aspect of proper interview etiquette. Communication experts tell us that 80% of our communication with others is non-verbal.
One of the best ways to connect with people and build trust is to look them in the eye. Eye contact is also important when you are in a group interview setting and definitely shows you are a confident person.
5. Firm handshake
This is another non-verbal way to connect with people. It seems ludicrous to be judged negatively by a limp handshake, but people do it all the time. Don’t be limpy, ladies.
6. Greet your interviewers as Ms or Mr
Most people prefer you call them by their first name. When was the last time someone said to you, Just call me Mr Gosling?
So, what's the big deal?
When you call someone by their last name you are showing them respect. In essence you are saying to them, I respect you and you are important.
7. Let the company take the lead during your interview
Sometimes when your interviewer is soft spoken or laid back you may feel a compulsion to keep things moving. So, you start taking back some control and the next thing you know, you're rambling.
Resist this. Let them run the interview. You must defer to them.
8. Listen and pause before answering a question
OMG there is nothing worse than when you are talking to someone and they step on the last 2-3 words of your sentence and talk over you instead of allowing you the courtesy to finish your sentence.
It's very annoying and frankly, rude. Let your interviewer finish making their point, pause for 1-2 seconds, then respond or add to their comments.
9. Sit up straight and lean slightly forward
This type of posture communicates: I'm listening and I'm very interested in what you have to say. It also signals you have high energy and are ready to go to work.
10. Take a few notes during your interview
Bring a professional looking binder with you. Write down a few notes during your interview. It feels weird, I know, but it conveys a sincere interest in what your interviewers have to say. You can also have a few key phrases written down to help you if you get stuck, and your short list of your questions for them.
Lastly, you can have your references and copies of your resume handy in case they ask you for them. If they ask you for your references during your interview, this is definitely a buying signal.
11. Smile warmly
This seems so obvious, I know. Hear me out. Some people have a serious demeanor when their face is in the resting position. I'm one of those people that seriously suffer from “b*tchface.”
So, knowing this about myself is good, because when I'm in certain settings I actually have to make a conscious effort to smile and overcompensate for my serious resting face.
12. Pursue the job even if your interview is going badly
You might be sitting in an awful interview thinking to yourself, this is the last place I'd ever want to work...get me out of here!
Best advice I can give you is be professional and finish what you started.
No one has a gun to your head to take this job. You're in the driver's seat, but be careful not to prejudge things too early in the process. Look at this interview like you're out on a first date with someone with horrid bad breath. You're not going to end the date because of this, but you're probably not going to kiss them good night either!
13. Close your interview with a lasting impression
At the conclusion of your interview, stand, make eye contact, smile, shake hands, call interviewer by name, thank them, express interest in the position, and ask what's the next step going forward.
Your interview is not over until you've driven out of the parking lot.
In a few cases, I've known managers to watch candidates from their office window as they exit the building and get into their car. Stay in professional mode until your tail lights are out of sight.
14. Mail a thank you note the day after your interview
Less than 10% of candidates send interview thank you notes, which is shocking because this is a MUST on the interview etiquette list. Candidates always score points with managers when they mail out a brief thank you note. Make an extra impact by mentioning some detail you discussed in the interview.
15. Exercise good follow up protocol
If after your job interview the company goes into silent mode, it's perfectly OK to call or email them for feedback. Most companies will eventually call you, but far too many leave you hanging forever. Remember: Don’t go overboard. You don’t want to annoy someone!