Etiquette for Job Interviews: Impress with Professionalism

Regardless of the interview format, your approach should remain professional. Ensure that you dress appropriately for the company’s culture. Have a firm handshake and make eye contact.

Be courteous to receptionists and administrative assistants, even if they do not play any direct role in the interview process. This demonstrates that you are respectful and thoughtful.

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Dress to Impress

During the interview, hiring managers will want to see that you are professional and dedicated to becoming a new member of the team. The smallest details can make or break the impression you leave behind.

Dressing in business attire is essential for job interview success. Select a dark color suit or skirt with a light colored shirt and neutral accessories. Keep jewelry to a minimum and ensure your nails and hair are neatly trimmed.

Be sure to shake hands and maintain eye contact with your interviewer. Be prepared to answer questions about your background, experience and career goals. Avoid discussing topics that could be seen as discriminatory, such as age, religion or culture. 

Thank the interviewer for their time, and follow up with a handwritten thank you note (not a text message or email). It will help set you apart from other candidates.

Arrive on Time

Punctuality is a sign of professionalism that shows the interviewer you are reliable and responsible. It can also help to reduce your stress levels before the interview, so it is important to give yourself enough time to get there.

When you do arrive, make sure you are ready to go, dressed professionally by the standards of your industry. Then, greet the interviewer with a firm handshake and direct eye contact. If you are nervous about shaking hands, practice with a friend and make sure your handshake is brief and dry.

When answering questions, be honest and sincere. It is OK to pause to think of an answer and ask for clarification when necessary. But do not give long, drawn-out explanations or badmouth your previous bosses or university tutors.

Be Prepared to Answer Questions

When interviewing for a job, you will likely be asked questions about your past work experience. Having a good understanding of how to best answer these types of questions will help you stand out from other candidates. You may also be asked behavioral-type questions that ask you to give examples of how you handled certain situations in the past.

When answering, keep in mind that it’s not professional to talk smack about a previous employer or coworker. Even if the company was toxic and you hated your boss or that one person in particular, it’s not a good idea to focus on the negative during an interview.

Your body language also communicates a lot during an interview. Sitting with your arms crossed or twirling your hair can send a message that you’re closed-off and defensive.

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Don’t Overshare

When interviewers ask about your strengths and weaknesses, it is best to keep this information professional. Discussing your family problems or personal failings can send the message that you cannot separate your work life from your private life, that you will bring drama to the workplace or that you have a lack of professionalism.

During the interview, your body language should be professional as well. Sitting with your arms crossed or twirling your hair sends the message that you are closed-off or defensive, while picking your nose or chewing gum can signal nervousness or a lack of self-confidence. 

Also, make sure to stand up when other employees enter the room and treat everyone in the company with respect, from assistants and receptionists to the CEO.