The workplace might have gone a little more casual in recent years, but in an interview setting, some old-fashioned rules still apply. Among the many interview tips you'll see out there, there are certain basic interview protocols. This standard etiquette can mean the difference between a job offer and a polite rejection.
Conduct Thorough Research
One of the best things you can do for an interview is show respect to the hiring manager by arriving fully prepared. If you're working with a recruiter, learn as much as possible about the key players, the work culture and the job itself. If there's no recruiter, research the company online and reach out to anyone you know who works there beforehand.
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In the days leading up to the job interview, you can prepare by looking up some interview questions that are likely to be asked. Make sure you have extra copies of your resume and dress according to the dress code. Obviously, you'll want to look professional, but a more casual environment might call for slightly less formal business interview attire.
Be Prompt and Polite
Making a good first impression starts before you show up for the interview. If you're set up for a pre-interview, give the same energy you would during the main event, even if you're interviewing with a recruiter. On the day of the interview, arrive on time, if not a few minutes early, and be polite and professional to everyone you meet, including the parking lot attendants and any employees you pass in the hallway.
Before the interview, make sure you silence your cell phone and don't check it until you're back in your car. If the interview involves lunch or even coffee, brush up on your table manners to make sure you make the best impression possible.
Watch Your Body Language
In the Zoom era, body language can be a lost art. But many hiring decisions are made based on first impressions. In fact, one survey found that 33 percent of hiring managers knew whether they'd hire someone within the first 90 seconds.
Your first impression starts when you walk in the room. Offer a firm handshake and make eye contact throughout the interview. Watch your posture throughout, avoiding slouching and squaring your shoulders to project confidence. Eye contact and posture are even more critical if you're interviewing via videoconference.
Ask Some Interview Questions
Most job interview etiquette follows the same etiquette that applies to all social situations. Conversation should be a two-way street. You should show an interest in your potential employer and arrive with a list of questions you have about the company and the job.
Some important points to cover include:
- What the role is
- How the role contributes to the larger organization
- What the potential career path is for employees in that role
- How the responsibilities might change in the future
- What training will be provided
- How the hiring manager sees the company's future
Consider also: Interview Questions You Should Expect
Practice After-Interview Etiquette
Etiquette doesn't end when you walk out that door. Follow-up could give you an edge over the competition. In fact, about one-third of candidates don't send a thank you note after every interview despite the fact that 68 percent of hirers state that post-interview thank you letters are important.
If days pass and you've still heard nothing about the job, you'll understandably want to follow up, especially if you were really excited about the position. If the hiring manager gave a date for an offer, make a note to send a follow-up email a week later. If you didn't get the job, a polite thank you can make a difference if someday you find yourself interacting with the same hiring manager in the future.
The job interview process can be a stressful one, but as long as you conduct yourself professionally and let your true personality shine, you'll make a positive lasting impression on any hiring manager. A little etiquette goes a long way, but it's also important to make sure the job is the right fit for you. In that sense, you're interviewing the hiring manager as much as you're being interviewed.
- Boston University: Dress for the Interview
- The Center for Work Ethic Development: First Impressions Are Everything: Why It’s Crucial to Impress in an Interview
- American Library Association: The Importance of Saying “Thank You” After an Interview
- Harvard Business Review: 4 Ways to Follow Up After a Job Interview