Interviews are similar to first dates – intimate, intimidating and generally uncomfortable. Even some of the most confident, smooth-talking people get sweaty palms and tongue-tied during interviews. Nerves are one thing, but tardiness, bad manners and distracting behavior are completely avoidable. Just like it’s rude to put your elbows on the dinner table and swear in front of a lady, the same kind of etiquette should be followed during an interview. In order to make the best possible impression and let your qualities shine through, you’ll want to follow these top 10 interview etiquette tips to seal the deal:
- Be early
Arriving 10-15 minutes before your interview demonstrates punctuality and responsibility. It also shows that you take the interview seriously and value the interviewer’s time. Being early is always better than being late, but be sure to give the interviewer enough time to prepare and don’t catch them off guard with your presence.
- Use a firm handshake
A handshake is commonplace before and after an interview. Shaking the hand of you interviewer is both polite and respectful, but it also shows confidence and openness to the interviewer. With that being said, a flimsy, weak handshake can send the wrong message and make you seem nervous or unprepared. If you’re worried about the grip, strength and overall feel of your handshake, practice beforehand with a friend or family member who can adjust your shake.
- Dress accordingly
Dressing for an interview can be tricky if you don’t know what the normal dress is for employees and really depends on the company, occupation and formality of the interview. To be on the safe side, it’s advised that you wear semi-formal business attire because it’s better to be a little overdressed than underdressed in an interview. As a rule of thumb, you shouldn’t wear jeans, flip flops or any other casual wear to an interview, unless noted. In addition, avoid distracting clothes, jewelry, hairstyles or makeup that will detract from you and your job qualities.
- Turn off your cell phone
If your cell phone goes off in the middle of an interview, you can pretty much kiss the job goodbye. Not only is this incredibly rude, but it may ruin what could have been a good interview. Even if you say you’re waiting on an emergency call and try to sugarcoat it, the interviewer may not approve and you could lose a potential job offer. When in doubt, always silence or turn off your cell phone – you can survive without it for 30 minutes.
- Make good eye contact
Eye contact is one of the most basic and telling nonverbal communication signals that take place in an interview. Making good eye contact with the interviewer shows your attentiveness and interest in the conversation taking place. Whereas, wandering eyes or poor eye contact make you seem disinterested or uncomfortable in what is being talked about.
- Tone down your nervous habits
You may pop your knuckles, twirl your hair and bite your nails when you’re nervous, but these fidgety gestures can be overly distracting in an interview. You don’t want the focus to be taken off of you and directed towards your bitten pen or shaking leg. To ease your nerves, take deep breaths and relax your body so you won’t feel anxious and revert back to your bad habits.
- Don’t chew gum
Bottom line – chewing gum during an interview is unprofessional and shouldn’t be done. If you’re chewing loudly, smacking your gum and blowing bubbles, that’s all the interviewer will be able to focus on because it’s incredibly distracting and bothersome in a serious scenario. If you need to freshen your breath, have a mint or use mouthwash before the interview.
- Say your please and thank yous
Good manners are always a plus in an interview. If the secretary or interviewer asks if you want a drink, always respond with a please and thank you. When the interview is over, be sure to thank the interviewer for his or her time and giving you the opportunity to interview. You can never say thank you enough.
- Think before you speak
Even if the interview is relaxed and takes a humorous turn, don’t slip up by telling jokes, talking about religion or politics or using profanity during an interview. You may be tempted to impress or say something memorable, but it’s best to act professionally the entire time and think before you speak. You don’t want an offensive joke to be the only thing they remember from your interview and risk losing a great job opportunity.
- Send a thank-you card
Immediately following the interview, you should send a handwritten thank-you card or e-mail to show your gratitude. Not only is this a polite thing to do, but it also gives you an opportunity to remind the interviewer of who you, what position you’re interested in and what you talked about during the interview. This will help you stand out in their memory and possibly give you a leg up in the job standing.