Always dress up and dress conservatively for a job interview. Even if you are applying for a job behind a steam table in a fast-food restaurant or in the relaxed environment of an IT company, this is a strategy that works. Remember how your parents told you to dress up to go to church or to visit Grandma? Their reasoning was that we show respect for an organization or an individual by dressing up. Your polish indicates that you think the interview and potential employer matter and that you respect them and the situation.
Arrive 15 minutes early. But no sooner.
Obviously you never want to be late for your interview; however, did you know that arriving too early could be annoying to employers?
Enter the interview room with enthusiasm and energy, both of which can help to mask your nervousness. Smile, make eye contact, and try to maintain an open posture (line your shoulders up with the shoulders of the person you are meeting) as you shake hands with each individual in the room. If possible, walk around the side of the table or desk to shake hands; try not to have a barrier between you and the person you are meeting. Introduce yourself using your first and last name as you shake hands (at least to the first person, if there are several people on the interview team), and, say your first and last name as you shake hands.
Sit up straight and lean slightly forward.
Sitting up straight and leaning slightly forward sends the following non-verbal signal: I'm listening intently. I'm interested in what you have to say. I have a lot of energy and I'm ready to go to work.
It's hard to believe that in a few seconds you can make this kind of impression, but it's true. So ignore this slice of interview etiquette at your own peril.
After you shake hands with all of your interviewers, stand behind a chair until you are invited to sit down, or politely ask where the interviewer would like you to sit. When you take your seat at an interview table, do not place personal items on the table no cell phones, I'phone, handbags, briefcases, water bottles or coffee cups. All of these things should be placed under your chair or on a chair beside you. You may place a portfolio or notepad and pen in front of you. If a beverage is offered, decline politely. Remember to sit up straight with both feet planted on the floor.
People love to hear the sound of their name, so use names when you meet interviewers and when you say goodbye. It is not necessary to sprinkle their names throughout the interview: "That's an interesting question, Mr. Paul" will seem artificial and cloying if said more than once. Because you may be nervous when entering an interview room, you may not hear and remember all of the names of the people you are meeting for the first time. Instead, when you are contacted by the interview scheduler, ask for the names and titles of the individuals who will be interviewing you, and write them down in the notebook or portfolio that you will carry to the interview. Memorize this list. Then, when you enter the interview room, you can use an individual's name when you shake hands: "Good morning, Miss. Julia. It's a pleasure to meet you." And always, always use an honorific (Mr., Ms., Mrs., Dr., Gen.) and last name when meeting someone for the first time in business. When introducing yourself, either in person or on the telephone, use your first and last name.
When meeting people from other countries, you need to research cultural differences in order not to offend others or embarrass yourself. In some cultures for example, a hug, kiss or air kiss may accompany that first handshake--you don-t want to be taken off guard.
Maintain an open posture when shaking hands, smile, make eye contact, and say your first and last name. When meeting someone for the first time, always try to say their name as you shake hands and use an honorific (Mr. Ms., Mrs., Dr., Gen.) and their last name. These rules apply to both men and women.
How you greet people reveals a great deal about you--your confidence, your attitude, your polish. Learn to give a good handshake. Begin with your hand parallel to the floor with your thumb pointing to the ceiling, and go all the way into your partner's hand until the space between thumbs and index fingers touch. Wrap your thumb and fingers all the way around your partner's hand and squeeze assertively--not painfully--and shake 3-4 times. Always stand for a handshake in business.
Make eye contact and maintain an open posture. This means aligning your shoulders with the shoulders of the person to whom you are speaking, whenever possible. Do the best you can in a situation where a number of people are interviewing you. Do not fidget in your chair, cross your legs, or wring your hands, and try not to use too many hand gestures. Hold a pencil or a pen if that helps to control your nervousness.
Employers interpret your attitude and interest in the job vacancy and in their company through your body language, just as they do from your smile and your words. Sit up straight and plant your feet firmly on the floor during an interview. You may think that a relaxed pose will show your confidence, but it shows, instead, a lack of respect or interest. Don't sit with both hands in your lap beneath the table--you will look like a nervous child. Rest an arm on the arm of your chair or on the table.
A smile shows not only confidence, but a pleasant nature. It invites others to get to know you. Remember that not only is an employer filling an opening in a workforce, but is filling an opening in a business family.
You are on stage from the moment you walk into the building where the interview will take place. Smile. Be enthusiastic. You may be riding on the elevator with the head of your interview team. Turn off your cell phone or Blackberry before you enter the building. When you arrive at the office where the interview will take place (and never more than 10 minutes early), politely introduce yourself to the receptionist, and sit at attention in the waiting area--no cell phone, BlackBerry, magazines. Stand and shake hands with the person who comes to escort you into the interview.
You have 5 seconds to make a first impression in most situations. In a job interview you're given a bit more time to shine--approximately 30 seconds. Since there's no rewind button to undo a false start, don't blow this opportunity to cement the image you want to leave in the minds of each and every member of an interview team.
This is a MUST on your job interview etiquette list. Not only is this a common courtesy, but it also keeps your name in front of those who interviewed you.
Your interview is not over until you drive down the road.
In a few cases, I've known hiring managers to watch candidates from their office window as they exit the building and get into their car. People can do some pretty outrageous things like spitting, lighting up a cigarette, arranging themselves, yapping on their cell phones for 20 minutes while leaning on their car, chowing down on a sandwich in their car, and other things you would not believe.
So, stay in professional mode until your tail lights are out of sight. Also, you may also be observed arriving for your interview.
You never know who you are going to meet or how a total stranger might positively affect your career downstream. Leave people with a positive impression of you. It could pay dividends in the future. I once knew of a company that merged with a competitor. Imagine having interviewed poorly with this competitor's VP who is now your boss.
You might be enduring an awful interview experience quietly 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 to the best of your ability. No one has a gun to your head to take this job. You're in the driver's seat because you can always withdraw from the process or turn down an offer.
Having a professional binder on your lap is you can use it as a cheat sheet if you're nervous. Prior to your interview you should have a few key phrases written down to help you if you get stuck...and your short list of appropriate questions to ask them.
Lastly, you can keep handy your your professional references and copies of your resume in case they ask you for them. If a hiring manager asks you for your professional references during your interview, this is definitely a buying signal.
Bring a professional looking binder with you so you can jot down a few notes during your interview. This conveys a sincere interest in what your interviewers have to say, and gives you a chance to jot down a question to ask at the appropriate time.
When I say a professional looking binder, I'm not talking about a cheap 3 ring binder like you carried around in the 8th grade. Invest in a leather binder that looks first class. Also, don't use an IPad or electronic tablet to take notes unless you're applying for a programmer or other IT position.
I've noticed a disturbing trend these days.
When I'm talking with someone, often times they will step on the last 2-3 words of my sentence and talk over me without extending to me the courtesy of finishing my sentence.
Has this ever happened to you? Annoying, isn't it?
Reporters and TV talk show hosts do it all the time. It is especially prevalent among Type A personalities.
Let your interviewer finish making their point, pause for 1-2 seconds; then, respond to their question or add to the conversation.
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.
Even so, be careful with this advice.
You don't want your handshake to be too firm especially if a man is shaking hands with a woman. Who practically breaks my hand every time we shake hands.
One of my personality flaws is I tend to have a serious resting face. The reason I'm aware of this is because over the years I've had co-workers and friends ask me on occasion if everything is alright or if I'm upset about something.
Body language is an extremely important detail of proper job 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 during a group interview.
The last thing you need is a distraction during one of the most important meetings of your life. People can still hear your cell ring in vibrate mode. Better yet just leave your cell phone in your car.
Again, it's a little thing, but in a world where there is too little respect going around, it will make you stand out from other competing candidates for this same position.
Special Tip: Throughout your interview, hiring managers will be trying to assess how easy you will be to work with and manage. It's true, employers need self starters and leaders, but sometimes they simply need you to be a good soldier and do your job.
Most people prefer you call them by their first name. When was the last time someone instructed you to call them by their last name?
So what's the big deal?
Well, it's really not a show stopper, and there is minimal risk you'll offend someone if you do call them by their first name; however, 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.