Most of us are very enthusiastic about coming up with New Year's resolutions. However, during the first few weeks into the New Year, we often find ourselves overwhelmed and wonder if it is possible to stay true to resolutions. For those seeking a new job, one resolution might be to obtain a job during a specific time frame. In this article, I will share some interview etiquette tips to help you achieve your goal.
An interview is simply an interrogation process where you consent to having your interviewer judge you. In reality, you are being “interviewed” anytime you meet another person in a professional or social environment.
Knowing how to act during the interview process is very important. Your potential employer will observe you through your verbal and nonverbal cues. That is why it is important to understand proper interview etiquette so you can increase your chances of landing a job.
Practicing interview etiquette before the interview is important. Henry Ford once said, “Before everything else, getting ready is the secret of success.” First impressions are lasting impressions created in as little as seven seconds. Your physical appearance should be impeccable. Brush your teeth and use mouthwash. Your hair should support a conservative style. Long hair should be kept away from the face. Nails should be clean and trimmed, and absolutely no chipped nail polish. Do not wear flashy jewelry (keep it simple and small) and avoid putting on distracting perfume. Dress conservatively in business attire and wear solid colors rather than prints. Wear comfortable and polished dress shoes. It is always better to overdress than to under dress.
Turn off your mobile phone. Do not put it on silent or vibration mode because the blinking light or the vibration felt through your pocket can be a distraction. Be punctual for your interview by arriving 15 minutes early. Smile and greet everyone in a pleasant manner. Remember that the most important person you meet will be the janitor or the receptionist – not your interviewer.
Interview etiquette during the interview begins with giving a firm handshake to your interviewer(s) while maintaining eye contact and a warm smile. Your handshake expresses your personality, while your smile and eye contact reveal that you are a friendly, relaxed, trustworthy and confident person. Do not sit down until asked to do so. If there is more than one empty chair in the room, always ask where you should sit.
Carry extra copies of your resume with you and have your list of two to three questions ready to ask the interviewer when prompted to do so. Communicate effectively by using proper grammar. Do not respond with nods, shrugs or “yes” and “no.” Respond in full sentences. Ask questions if you do not understand something. Interviewers welcome this approach rather than seeing someone act like a “know-it-all.”
Remain respectful and polite and use proper salutations at all times. Listen intently while maintaining eye contact; this will show your interviewer that you are a respectful and considerate individual. Your eyes should not wander around the room. Do not be too eager to speak or interrupt. Practice pauses so you look poised and polished.
Be prepared to handle sticky situations. For instance, how would you properly decline a question? Interviewers will typically not ask personal questions. Nevertheless, if such a question is posed, politely state that you prefer not to answer the question.
Stay calm and do not get defensive. However, if the question is non-personal, then aim to respond in the manner that makes you feel most comfortable. You could also offer to respond to that particular question via email. Refusing to answer a non-personal question may make you appear as someone refusing to disclose relevant information. If you are well-prepared for the situation, it demonstrates to your interviewer that you are capable of performing under-pressure.
Interview etiquette after the interview helps to keep you on your interviewer’s radar. Shake each interviewer’s hand and thank them by name. Ask them for their business cards so you have their contact information to send them a “thank you” note. After a promising job interview, follow-up is essential and a must.
Send a handwritten "thank you" note within 24 hours to everyone you interviewed with. Interviewees who fail to follow-up with this common courtesy are viewed less favorably by employers. If time is of the essence, you can email a thank you note and follow up with a handwritten note. This follow-up note is also your opportunity to add something that you forgot to tell your interviewer during the interview.
The interview is designed for the purpose of finding the best person for the job. Pleasant manners and a polished look can really make or break you in today’s world. You have the power to influence everyone you meet through your body language, appearance and eye contact. Happy interviewing.