Manners for the Job Interview

Folks, you’d be surprised how many people fail to follow basic principles of etiquette, protocol, and good common sense in a job interview.

I hear this consistently from recruiters and hiring managers. And I’ve fielded my share of stunningly unprofessional professional calls.

We live in a culture that values being casual, off-the-cuff, and effortless. We tend to equate too much effort or ceremony with insincerity. But there are times when manners, preparation, and deference are called for. And interviews are among them.

After all, the purpose of good manners is to create a set of behavior protocols that puts people at ease, greases the wheels, and helps potentially awkward social interactions move more smoothly.

Here are a handful of recruiter-approved tips for making the right impression at a job interview:

  • Dress one step up for your role. In other words, whatever is your understanding of typical, appropriate dress for this job, take it up a notch. This shows respect for the role and company.
  • Bring a copy of your resume to the interview. This shows that you’re thinking ahead and solving problems.
  • Know the name of the person you’ll be interviewing with. This shows you’re prepared and saves the receptionist the hassle of tracking them down.
  • You’re not a mind-reader, but I bet you have a pretty good guess regarding several interview questions. Have your responses rehearsed and ready to go.
  • Think deeply before saying anything negative about past employers or sharing personal difficulties. It may be perfectly true that your prior boss was unstable or that quitting your last job allowed you to care for your mother during her fight with cancer. But a.) mentioning these associates you with drama and b.) they’re not actually relevant to your qualifications for this job.
  • For phone interviews, rather than answering with a typical “Hello?” answer with your name: “Hello, this is Angela.” Already, you’re solving problems—you’ve reassured your interviewer that they’ve reached the correct person and you’ve let them know how you pronounce your name.
  • And for the love, put the dogs out before taking a phone interview!

And the manners don’t stop when the interview does. Definitely end each interview with a hearty, sincere, eye-contact “Thank you so much for your time” and follow up a day or two later with a thank you note.

There’s a common thread with all of these tips. In each case, you’re making things simpler and smoothing the process for your interview.

Be a person who uses their savvy to be considerate of others and solve problems. Those are the people companies want to hire. In fact, those are the people that people want to hang out with!

As always, don’t hesitate to reach out with your career development or job search questions. And please mention us to your friends or colleagues who could use some help moving their career onward and upward.