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Get the Job of Your Dreams With Good Interviewing Etiquette


Appropriate Behavior Will Secure a Good Job Interview

A job interview requires good etiquette, because a job interview is a formal interaction. It is not a casual get-together or "hanging out." It is a formal business appointment and the job candidate will be judged on their appearance and behaviors, even in an IT company where everyone wears khakis, T-shirts, running shoes, and perhaps purple hair and multiple piercings.

For a job interview, dress yourself a bit better and above the level you'd expect among the current employees, wear conservative clothing, and act in a conservative manner.

Waiting for an interview. Try to relax.

Waiting for an interview. Try to relax.

Interview etiquette is all about showing as much respect to the interviewer and your potential new employer's company as you can. It is also all about being completely appropriate in manners for a business setting. Knowledge, experience, determination, and communications skills will help, but etiquette is the first picture your new employer will have of your character.

Hiring decisions to reject applicants, based on poor etiquette often occur within the first five minutes of the job interview. A tentative decision to hire you could also be made in that first five minutes, if your etiquette is good.

Etiquette begins to be observed from the time you drive onto the parking lot or get off the bus stop nearest the company to reach your interview appointment. Many times, a staff member of the company is stationed in a place to be able to observe you coming onto the property for your interview. They may also observe you leaving. Make sure your movements are confident, but relaxed, and that you use good posture. Don't look down, but look straight ahead.

Observe good manners and safety rules while driving and don't screech your tires or cut across empty parking spaces in the lot if you are driving. Stick to the driving lanes and speed limits (usually 10 mph in a parking lot). Wash your car the day before your interview, if you will be driving. Some people even rent a car for job interviews in order to make the best impression and the cost is often a tax-deductible job-search expense.

Next, you enter the building. Be polite, and hold the door for others who are entering the building. Show good manners and greet everyone politely, from the receptionist to the janitor, and especially any customers or clients you encounter.

Next, your character shows in how you choose to enter the room. Do not do it without thought.

Politely greet the receptionist and introduce yourself and state whom you are to see and follow her directions. When he or she tells you it is time to go into the next room for your interview, do not walk straight into the room without being asked by the interviewer to do so. Knock on the door first if it is closed or wait for the receptionist to walk you in. The interviewer may also come out to meet you first. Wait for him or her to ask you into their office.

Preparation is important.

Preparation is important.

Be on time or 10 minutes early. Any more than 10 minutes and some interviewers become perturbed with job candidates. The interviewer may see this as pushy or controlling (putting pressure on the interviewer to see him or her sooner).

Drive past the company the day before to make sure you know where it is and how to get there. If you drive by early in the morning, you will see how employees dress as well. You might stop in at the lobby and introduce yourself to the receptionist and pick up some company literature. You can study it overnight. If something happens unexpectedly to make you late the next day, call the receptionist as soon as possible.

  1. Turn off your cell phone for the interview. No exceptions.
  2. Job interviews require more formal attire (business-formal), no matter how you dress in everyday life. Business office attire is still business-formal for women and men. You may see people in movies getting jobs for their attitudes or creativity, instead of their appearance, but those are movies. They are not real life and it usually does not work that way. Have a good appearance and wear your best outfit, unless is it party-wear with flashy colors or sequins, etc. Wear a suit if at all possible or borrow one if you can. Otherwise, a clean and pressed shirt (plain, not a print), with a tie and dark-colored pressed trousers will work for men. A clean and pressed tailored dress or skirt and blouse will work for women, and nothing should be above knee-length. No short skirts. For shoes, both men and woman should wear closed-toe dress shoes or clean shoes that are not running or sports shoes. No sandals.
  3. Wash your hair the day before your interview and get a haircut if you need one. Comb and brush it well and wear it neatly for your interview. Long hair needs to be tied back. Braids and large or multiple pieces of hair jewelry are not acceptable. Do not wear blue, green, or purple hair or extensions. Do not wear cologne or perfume, because it will be distracting and the interviewer might be allergic to it. Do use deodorant.
  4. Smile when you meet the interviewer with a smile that reaches into your eyes. Use an assertive handshake and look people in the eye. Assertive does not mean aggressive. Shake hands firmly and bend forward slightly to show respect.
  5. Wait to be offered a seat and then say, "Thank you." Sit down with good posture and keep your feet flat on the floor. Do not cross your legs except at the ankles and do not shake your feet or legs, or fidget.
  6. Do not hog the conversation, make rude remarks or sit silently at the interview. Respond to questions in a positive, energetic, and forthcoming manner. Ask good questions when you have a chance. If it is a breakfast or lunch interview, use careful table manners. Do not try to make jokes.
  7. Sell yourself by pointing out how you will benefit the employer. Do not dwell on hobbies, volunteer work, your family, or your personal life.
  8. Do not lie about anything.
  9. Discussing wages and salary in the first interview is often seen as unethical. The employer should mention a salary range first. If you mention a range first, it may be lower than the employer would actually pay. However, if they ask you, give them the range you have chosen as reasonable according to what similar jobs are paying in your city.
  10. Thank the interviewer(s) at the end of the interview, asking when they will contact you for a second interview or with a hiring decision. Thank the receptionist on your way out.
  11. Walk out of the interview and the building with a real smile on your face and walk with upright posture in a confident manner. Be polite and friendly to those you encounter on your way out.
  12. Drive carefully out of the parking lot or wait calmly at your bus stop and stop somewhere to purchase a Thank You Note on your way home. Hand write a sincere thank you for the interview and mail the note later the same day or first thing the next morning. Be sire to get the interviewer's name correct - call the company and ask if you are not sure. The Thank You Note can make a difference!
  13. For some extra pointers, read Things You Should Never Say in an Interview.
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Use the following as an effective Pre-Interview Checklist:

  1. Be on time.
  2. Study the research you have done on the company again on the day before the interview.
  3. Be on time.
  4. Listen to the weather forecast and road construction updates the night before.
  5. Have an umbrella if it may rain.
  6. Shoes clean and polished.
  7. Clothing pressed and stain-free.
  8. Fingernails clean and neat and a natural color.
  9. Hair is controlled and neat.
  10. Be on time.
  11. No big or extra jewelry. Only ONE ring on each hand and ONE earring in each ear.
  12. Know the name of the interviewer(s).
  13. Have the address and phone number of the company and interview location.
  14. If driving, have a city map in your car. Don't get lost.
  15. Have TEN copies of your resume.
  16. Have a notebook and pen.
  17. Be on time.
  18. Women-have light makeup with you and an extra pair of pantyhose.
  19. Do not carry a purse AND a briefcase. The purse should be small and go INSIDE the briefcase.
  20. Be on time.
  21. Be on time.
  22. Be on time - and do not be too early. Ten minutes early is usually fine.

Look for these at your local library or bookseller:

  • The Interview Rehearsal Book by Deb Gottesman and Buzz Mauro (Paperback - Mar 1, 1999) Berkley trade paperback, ISBN-10: 0425166864;ISBN-13: 978-0425166864.
  • New Manners for New Times: A Complete Guide to Etiquette, by Letitia Baldrige, New York: Scribner, 2003, ISBN 0-7432-1062-X.
  • Winning Job Interviews: Reduce Interview Anxiety / Outprepare the Other Candidates / Land the Job You Love (Paperback) by Paul Powers. Career Press (December 2004), ISBN-10: 1564147789;ISBN-13: 978-1564147783

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.


pythian2 from UK on June 05, 2012:

Great article. My wife has an interview this week,so I read it just in time. While a lot of what you say is common sense, it still isn't practiced. As someone who interviews potential employees you hit the nail on the head, pardon the cliché.

Brittany Rowland from Woodstock, GA on October 12, 2011:

Thanks for the helpful tips. I've had a handful of interviews the past couple months. It's a challenging process, and each interviewer is different. I was surprised when I showed up for one interview in my professional attire and the man interviewing me was in shorts and sandals. Another time I had an interviewer who seemed unsure of herself and more nervous than I was--that kind of threw me off.

One thing that bothers me is not knowing how many other candidates are being considered for the position. Is there any way to find this out, or is it something you shouldn't bring up?

LilMomma40 on October 06, 2011:

Absolutely! Will do! I'm so excited...I could burst!! :)

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on October 03, 2011:

Good! - let us know how it goes.

LilMomma40 on October 03, 2011:

WOW!!! Thank you for the speedy reply, and the this was exactly what I'd plan to do (not w/a friend) though. Hadn't thought of that! Just thought to tape record myself responding to typical interview questions, etc. Thanks a lot, Patty! Greatly appreciate this!

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on October 03, 2011:

LilMomma40 -

Thanks for posting. Try practicing in some mock interviews with a friend, at a local job club, or perhaps at the county jobs office in your area. The feedback should help you tone down or increase energy in your delivery of answers.



LilMomma40 on October 03, 2011:

Hi Patty! Am new to the hub, and I gotta tell ya...I LOVE IT! I guess that I can say that I have some experience w/interviewing. However, it always helps to hone skills previously acquired, which brought me to this site (excuse me)...hub! The information here is very informative, and I have even come away with a few ideas! THANK YOU very kindly!! I am looking to advance in my career, and am ready to do somethings that will make me stand out amongst the crowd. BUT, I don't want to appear overly confident! Being assertive is one of my stong suits, but again, I don't want any prospective employer to mistake my assertiveness for intimidation. I am really a sweet heart, and absolutely LOVE helping others especially in the workplace!

While I am aware of being on time, etiquette, a firm handshake, eye contact, the extra resumes, etc. I have recently applied for my ideal position, and I DO NOT WANT TO SCREW UP this opportunity.

Any advice for a girl who's been there done that, about to do it again, confidently yet humbly at the same time???

writingale from Land of the Green on July 20, 2011:

interview should be given in very professional manner etiquette matters a lot in interview.thanks for giving us some useful tips

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on June 10, 2011:

I think that the younger we are and at the other end - senior citizens are scrutinized pretty closely about whether they are on time for the interview. If bk is Burger King, then show good energy and willingness to follow directions, but also the ability to stay calm during crisis and make decisions - you know, restaurant grill and fryer fires, big spills of food and drinks, etc.

Let us know how it goes!

steffani on June 10, 2011:

i have a job interview at bk today, im so nervous but cant help it, and i really hope to get the job, im 17 and it would be my first job. so im not sure what to say or what to do. but this site really made me feel better, because pretty much all i have to do is be confident, answer questions, and BE ON TIME!! ;P

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on December 06, 2008:

Yes, although it disturbs me, some interviewers DO provoke the interviewee and look at their reactions.

Telling what you thought was suitable in the second interview was also a good move, because personal interviews can trap the interviewee into giving imformation that is actually illegal to ask. 

You have a better chance at the job than the two others that were not called in to the second interview.

greathub from Earth on December 06, 2008:

I went for an interview a few days ago. I was told that it will going to be a technical interview. I faced a really rude interviewer. He tried to provoke me at all times. He also insulted me time and again. Before I went to interview I was asked to fill an employment form. In that form they had asked to write the "expected salary, benefits". I wrote the expected salary and mentioned that I expect the company to pay for my medical expenses also. The interviewer had that form with him while he was taking interview. He read it and asked insultingly whether company should pay for my expenses resulting from as small thing as a sneeze or cough. I said yes. (Note: In our country there are no particular clear-cut rules about medical cover. Even if there are companies dont follow them.)

The point here is that he was really rude. I wonder if interviewers intentionally try to provoke the interviewee to assess how he/she would react in a similar situation once in job.

Once the technical interview was over I was told to wait outside. Few minutes later they called me in. I went in that guy was not there. Instead there was a woman from the HR department. She then took a "personal" interview in a really friendly manner. She asked in detail about my personal life. I told her what I thought was truth and suitable to tell.

The other two candidates that were present there for interview were not called in again and they just had 1 interview while I had two interviews (one with that insulting guy and one with the friendly HR lady)

Does it indicate that they will hire me?

And, do interviewers intentionally provoke interviewees?

ARMSTRONG-24 on July 02, 2008:

Your interview tips are great. Armstrong

Patty Inglish MS (author) from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on May 27, 2008:

How droll, Vince! :) You could be a stand-up comedian on weekends. LOL

VinceSamios from Australia on May 26, 2008:

I interviewed for a job as a stripper wearing a neat suit a tie - lets just say your advice doesn't always apply ;-)


Job Nigeria on April 24, 2008:

This is some great advice. Very useful information, thanks for sharing! i hope you have another good advice like this.


Job NIgeria

stubbs from London on September 27, 2007:

thank you

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