Suggestions of how to relay proper interview etiquette are scattered throughout our blog. Here we’ve consolidated the top 6 into one quick list to make them easier to remember.
You may think that most of these items are pretty obvious, but you would be amazed at how many people don’t think about proper etiquette when heading in for an interview. They get caught up in the entire process, and they are focused on what comes next instead of tackling it step by step. These tips may seem small, but the details add up - and fast. Stay ahead of the curve by doing the following:
Shut off your phone
We have grown accustomed to always being available and swiping through our phones during every quiet moment. Reaching for your phone has become instinctive - shut it off before the interview to avoid this distraction. You may even want to take it a step further and leave it in the car.
If you feel more comfortable with your phone on your person, shut it off or keep it on silent. Don’t just leave it on vibrate: Most interviews are conducted in a quiet room where it will be obvious if your phone starts vibrating. This will distract you and your interviewer. Plus, you don’t want the interviewer to get the impression that think something is more important than your interview. You want them to believe they are the most important thing on your mind right now and that you respect their time. A cell phone going off in the middle of your conversation is not the way to relay that message.
Make eye contact
Body language and confidence are two important components for your interview process that we talk about often. Making eye contact when you speak to someone goes a long way for silently demonstrating confidence and attentiveness.
While managing a customer support team, I interviewed people that appeared to be talking to the desk the entire time. While they checked all the boxes for qualifications and experience, I couldn’t see them meshing with the team environment, nevermind communicating with customers. Eye contact builds trust and shows that you are confident about what you are saying.
Be polite, not overly formal
Have you ever had a professional conversation with someone that doesn’t use basic manners? If you have, then you know it can feel uncomfortable.
It may not seem like that big of a deal in a world where the line between work and personal life has more or less disappeared, but it is a huge deal when it comes to proper interview etiquette. You want the interviewers to know that you respect them, respect the role, and that this opportunity is important to you.
This means you should say please and thank you, not talk with your mouth full (during those dinner interviews), and mind your body language. Taking it too far; appearing overly eager, shaking with two hands, even using Mr. or Ms. can distract from your interview. In some situations you may need to refer to the interviewer as “Doctor _” or “Mr./Ms”, but generally speaking you should be okay using first names. At least listen to how they introduce themselves and stick with that.
Have a firm handshake
We have an entire article about how important it is to have a firm handshake that relays confidence, so there is no excuse here! At first, it is something that will take conscientious attention, but soon your default handshake will be top notch. If you haven’t read that post yet, I strongly suggest that you check it out. There’s nothing more disappointing during a first impression than a limp handshake… don’t be that person.
Don’t interrupt or ramble
It can be hard to restrain yourself when being peppered with questions - especially when you’re prepared and have stellar responses to share! Whatever you do, don’t interrupt the interviewer. Give him or her a chance to finish their thought before jumping in. Even when you do know exactly how to respond, I find that taking a moment to nod (or acknowledge the question in some way) before responding is noticed and appreciated. It shows you have a calm, thoughtful, demeanor which will also put the interviewer at ease. Let the interviewer finish, pause for a few seconds, and then answer the question they asked.
Even if you did your research and know everything that you want to know about the company, take notes so they know that you are paying attention. If nothing else, I recommend jotting down the name of the interviewer, their role, and one or two topics that you discussed. This will aid you later when you sit down to send thank you messages. Taking notes also gives you an opportunity to break eye contact while still demonstrating respect and interest.