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Getting Back in the Game: 10 Job Interview Etiquette Tips

By Patricia McCollum CIR, Recruiter, Gallagher MSA Search 

Part of our job as executive search recruiters and consultants is to prepare candidates for phone and in-person interviews with our client organizations.  Having successfully placed hundreds of executives, we occasionally have candidates at the Director level - identified through our SearchDIRECT practice - who may be interviewing for the first time, or have not interviewed for many years.  For those individuals, following are some "best practices" job interview etiquette tips by Job Search Expert Alison Doyle. 

  1. What to Wear to a Job Interview: When you are dressing for a job interview, the image you present is really important.  Your image is what makes the first impression on the interviewer - and that first impression is the one that sticks- so it's important to dress appropriately when interviewing.  Regardless of the type of job you are interested in, you want the first impression to be a great one.  When dressing for an interview for a professional position, dress accordingly in business attire.
  2. When to Get a Job Interview: ARRIVE ON TIME!  It's important to arrive a few minutes early, or on time, at the latest, for a job interview.  Know where you are going, how much travel is needed, and how to get to the interview location.   Check out the logistics ahead of time so you ensure that you are not late.  Giving yourself a bit of extra time will give you an opportunity to stop in the rest room and freshen up, if need be, to make sure you don't have any hair, make-up or wardrobe malfunctions.  A few extra minutes will also give you an opportunity to catch your breath and stay calm.  An interview is even more stressful than normal if you are rushing to get there on time. 
  3. What to Bring to a Job Interview:  It's important to come prepared to a job interview.  Bring extra copies of your resume along with a list of references to offer the interviewer.  Also, bring a list of questions to ask the interviewer.  If you're interviewing for a tech or web job and you want to show examples of your work, it's fine to bring your laptop or tablet to show the interviewer what you have accomplished.  What should you NOT bring? Don't walk into a job interview with a coffee or bottle of soda or water, or anything else to eat or drink.  Your cell phone should be turned off and out of sight.  You don't want to be the applicant whose text messages or calls disrupt the interview.
  4. How to Greet the Interviewer:  When you arrive at a job interview, introduce yourself to the receptionist, if there is one.  Let him or her know who you are scheduled to meet with.  Greet your interviewer with a firm handshake and introduce yourself.  Be prepared for a little small talk, but don't overdo it.  Follow the interviewer's lead and let them guide the direction of the conversation.
  5. Responding to Interview Questions:  Listening is as important as talking during a job interview. When you respond to interview questions, listen carefully to the questions, take time to phrase your responses, and ask the interviewer to repeat the question if you are not sure what they are asking.  Be brief and don't ramble when you respond.  However, do be sure that your responses answer the questions, are focused, and highlight the skills you have that are relevant to the job.  Keep in mind that your responses are your sales pitch.  You are selling the interviewer on yourself as the best candidate for the job, so be sure you focus on your relevancy, i.e., why you are a good candidate, how you can do the job, what you can contribute, and how you will benefit the company if you are hired.  
  6. Telephone Interview Etiquette:  Phone interview etiquette is just as important as in-person job interview etiquette when it comes to getting hired.  That's because, regardless of whether you interview on the phone or in-person, a successful interview will get you to the next stage of the hiring process.
  7. Dining Interview Etiquette:  Dining with a prospective employee allows employers to review your communication and interpersonal skills, as well as your table manners, in a more casual environment.  Good manners can give you the edge over another candidate, so, take some time to brush up on your dining etiquette skills before dinner.
  8. What to Give the Interviewer:  Bring extra copies of your resume with you, in case the interviewer needs a copy or you end up meeting with several people.  Have a list of three references printed out, including contact information for each reference, ready to offer at the end of the interview.
  9. Closing the Interview:  Toward the end of the interview, let the hiring manager know that you think the job is an excellent fit and that you are very interested in the job.  It is appropriate to ask what the next step in the hiring process will be and when you might expect to hear.  Finally, thank the interviewer for the time they spent with you. 
  10. Follow Up with a Thank You Note:  Taking the time to say thank you not only shows that you appreciate the interview, it also gives you an opportunity to reiterate your interest in the job.  In addition to saying thank you, refer to anything the interviewer mentioned that enhanced your interest and summarize why you think the job is a good match and why you are a strong candidate.  

Knowing proper job interview etiquette is an important part of successful interviewing.  How you dress, what you bring to a job interview, how you greet the interviewer, and how you communicate can all make a big difference in the outcome of the interview.  Review these 10 etiquette tips for before, during, and after a job interview, to ensure that your job interview etiquette is up to speed and you are making the best impression.

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