Meeting all of the requirements for a job is only part of what it takes to land the job. The other part is interviewing etiquette, or winning over the interviewer with your personality, character and manners. In the history of job interviews there have been plenty of people who have been turned down for a job even though they looked like the perfect fit on paper. These people may have had all of the skills and experience required for the job, but when it came to the interview, they failed to shine.
The reality is, employers are interested in more than just qualifications. Here’s where etiquette, or manners, comes into play during the interview. If the thought of such a high-stakes test of your character and manners scares you, take a deep breath and relax. The best thing to do is simply be yourself and follow these five interview etiquette tips:
- Arrive Early
- Greet Everyone
- Mind Your Manners
- Engage in Small Talk
- Say “Thank You”
Making a good first impression is so important to your interview, but it’s impossible to make a good first impression if you are late. Be sure to arrive to the interview on time, or even ten minutes early. Arriving early will give you some time to use the restroom, find your way to the interview location and compose yourself. However, it is important to remember that even though the interview hasn’t officially started yet, people are still watching you and judging your behavior. While you are waiting for the interview to start, sit or stand quietly and continue to prepare for the interview by reading over the questions you have prepared, the job description, company information or your resume.
Once you arrive at the location of your interview, be sure to greet everyone with whom you come into contact with a smile. Say hello to everyone, from the person with whom you share an elevator ride to the receptionist sitting behind the front desk. Introduce yourself by stating your first and last name and offer a firm handshake. Once you have been introduced to people, refer to them as “Mr.” or “Ms.” followed by their last name. If people request that you call them by their first name it is then acceptable to do so.
Mind Your Manners
Even if using good manners is second nature to you normally, it is easy to forget your “P’s & Q’s” when you are nervous or excited. However, an interview demands that your manners are in check at all times. Remember to say thank you whenever someone holds the door for you, offers you a water or compliments your shirt. Always let the person who is speaking finish his or her thought before jumping into the conversation. It can be tempting to cut someone off in your excitement to answer a question, but be patient and wait your turn to speak. Finally, address people by name to show respect and to show that you cared enough to remember their names when you were first introduced.
Engage in Small Talk
Remember, the interview is just as much about showing your personality as it is about impressing the interviewer with your skills and qualifications. It is important to engage in small talk with the interviewer and other people you meet when it is appropriate. Small talk is a polite side conversation about an unimportant and uncontroversial topic. Be sure to stick to topics that are easy for anyone to comment on, such as the weather or sports. Most people love to talk about their children, so if you see pictures of your interviewer’s children on display, feel free to ask about them.
Try to avoid controversial topics, such as politics, as you never know where another person stands on certain issues, and an interview is not the time to get into a debate. Keep your small talk light-hearted and brief. If you get too far off topic with your small talk, your interviewer might think you are easily distracted or are trying to avoid the topic at hand.
Say Thank You
You can’t say “thank you” enough when it comes to an interview. The interviewer has taken time out of a busy day to meet with you and give you a chance at a job. After the interview is finished and you are saying your goodbyes, this is a good time to express your gratitude for the interview. Follow-up with the interviewer later in the day with an email to say thank you once again. Finally, take a few minutes to write a handwritten thank you card and send it to your interviewer’s office the next day. These things might seem unimportant, but they will not go unnoticed. If anything, the interviewer will likely notice if you fail to express your thanks.
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