Researching the company, formulating answers to commonly-asked questions, and picking out your outfit the night before an interview are great ideas, but without proper etiquette during the interview, those things won’t matter. Although job interview preparation is a major component to a successful interview, your interview etiquette is just as crucial to snagging that new job. Here are 8 interview etiquette tips to ensure that you impress the other side of the table so that you can get one step closer to your dream job!
Start off on the right foot
Pretend that your interview starts the minute you enter the parking lot. Be on your best behavior and be courteous to everyone that you meet. You never know who might be watching and judging your behavior from the moment you arrive. Smile at everyone you cross paths with and if you need to do any last minute grooming, find a restroom! Interview etiquette starts way before you shake hands with the hiring manager.
Turn your cellphone off
This may seem like a no-brainer but when you are nervous about your interview and your mind is preoccupied with the thought of a new job, you might forget to turn your ringer on silent. Leaving your phone on vibrate is not good enough; we’ve all heard phones vibrate before. It’s a distraction and it looks poorly on you as a potential job candidate. Turn your phone on silent, turn it off, or just leave it in the car to eliminate any risk.
Firmly shake hands
Your handshake can say a lot about you and it can give off the wrong message if not done correctly. It may seem harsh to judge someone on their handshake, but it happens all of the time, so it’s important that you get it right. Firmly grasp the other person’s hand and look them in the eyes. If this is something that you aren’t completely comfortable with, practice with a friend in order to feel more natural. Try to be the first one to extend your hand but don’t worry, it’s not a faux pas if you meet them in the middle.
Make eye contact
Deliberately look every person that you meet in the eyes. Whether that’s the receptionist, someone on the elevator, or the hiring manager, making eye contact projects a sense of confidence and leadership that will impress the company. Eye contact can also affect the sense of trust that someone feels in your presence, and when interviewing for a job, trust is essential. According to an article about the neuroscience behind eye contact, “looking someone directly in the eyes during a conversation is the key to making any social, professional, or romantic connection.” And that’s based on science!
Prioritize your posture
While practicing the answers to anticipated interview questions is helpful preparation, it’s essential to remember how others might perceive you based on your body language, and not your words. Body language is everything; you are giving off nonverbal signals even if you don’t realize it. In fact, studies have shown that 93% of communication is nonverbal. Be present and cognizant of what your body is doing; stand up or sit up straight and be careful how your actions might be interpreted.
Don’t just sit back, relax, and let the interview questions come to you. Take a more active approach to your interview by taking notes along the way. Don’t take notes on your computer, tablet, or phone, as it may give off the impression that you aren’t paying attention. Bring a notepad and a pen and take notes the old-fashioned way. This will show that you are not only engaged in the interview, but that you care enough about the information to save it for later.
Consider an interview a two-sided conversation. Bring a small list of interview questions to ask the hiring manager at the end of the interview or where any natural pauses allow. Hiring managers will be expecting questions and they may even ask you about what questions you have. Showing up without a single question of your own will show that you aren’t interested in the job or and don’t care to learn more about the company. Ask about the company culture or what the career path looks like for someone in the open position. There aren’t any wrong questions, but just be careful not to ask something that the interviewer has already talked about during the interview or through email.
Send a thank you note immediately following your interview; this is not an option! Not only is this a courteous practice that reflects how you develop relationships, but it keeps your name in front of the hiring committee so that you don’t get lost in the shuffle. Mail a handwritten thank you card immediately after you step out of the interview to ensure a timely arrival. Make sure to send a customized note to each person you spoke with and include a personal anecdote so that they can remember something interesting about your conversation.
There is a lot of practice and preparation that goes into a smooth interview and although nerves may come into play, remain courteous and practice good interview etiquette. Even if you stumble over a couple of words, your character and good manners will pick up the slack!