Interview Etiquette

Your experience alone will not secure a job offer. How you convey your experience will be equally important.

A good impression may reap benefits beyond the present interview. If the current opening isn't a match for you, the hiring manager may call you back for another position or refer you to someone they know, if you have presented yourself well.

  • Know the precise time and place of the interview
  • Know the exact name, pronunciation and title of the interviewer
  • Wear professional attire (even if the company is casual)
  • Arrive 15 minutes early (and start on the application if there is one)
  • Bring a copy of your resume and be prepared to hand it to the interviewer if asked
  • Bring references, but offer them only if requested
  • Shake hands firmly and make eye contact
  • Wait to be asked before sitting
  • Refrain from smoking, chewing gum, etc. even if the interviewer is doing so
  • Sit upright and alert
  • Remain professional, polite and friendly
  • Exude energy and enthusiasm

Answer Positively

It's key in an interview to make as many of your answers as positive as possible. At times, answers will be "no" or "I don't know," but when you can, turn a "NO" into "YES."

For example, let's say that you worked with Lotus for four years at your last job, but at your current company, which you joined one year ago, you no longer use Lotus but Excel. If the interviewer asks, "Do you work with Lotus?" your answer should be a strong, "Yes, I worked with Lotus for four years at my former company." Instead of: "No, I haven’t worked with Lotus for a year." While both responses are true, the first leaves the interviewer with a more positive impression without misrepresenting your experience.

Body Language

Communication is more than speech. Often our body language can be even more revealing than our words: firm handshakes can express confidence; eye contact can show interest and self-assurance; sitting upright can show alertness and energy. Active listening allows you to respond intelligently to the interviewer.

Avoid ...

  • Repeating questions before answering. This is a well-known stalling technique and it may be interpreted that you are unprepared for the question or unsure of your answer.
  • Vocal crutches such as "you know" or "to be perfectly honest" which can often be distracting and even annoying.
  • Vague answers which can make it look as though you have something to hide. Answer directly, responding specifically to the question you have been asked.
  • Yes/no answers, which can turn the conversation into a "drill."
  • Over-explaining. Elaborate explanations can often be confusing instead of enlightening. It is best to be clear and concise.
  • Derogatory comments about past employers - which are always unprofessional.
  • Negative responses. If there is an aspect of the job which does not appeal to you, keep it to yourself during the interview. Later, you will be able to privately weigh all the pros and cons of a position. It is best to avoid rejecting an opportunity before you have received an offer and had time to think it over.
  • Discussing salary prematurely. Showing too much interest in the compensation rather than the opportunity is not appropriate.
  • Controversial subjects such as religion and politics. This is not the place.
  • Lying is always unacceptable.

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