13 etiquette strategies to ace a job interview
Landing a job involves more than your technical skills. How you present yourself makes an impact on the hiring manager.
You nailed every interview question. You asked the right questions. You are the kind of job candidate who truly cares. Your handshake was firm--you were conscious of body language, knowing nonverbal cues "communicate your credibility and intentions."
Your skills were a perfect fit for the position. So why didn't you get the job?
Sometimes the things we do without a second thought can work against us in a high-stakes situation.
Here are 13 ways to avoid unwittingly sabotaging yourself at the interview.
1. Be kind to the receptionist.
Don't make the mistake of thinking you have to impress only your interviewer. You should exude warmth and respect to everyone you meet in the building.
Being authentically considerate aligns with your values and makes a strong initial impression. Plus, those you interact with beforehand may chime in with their opinions about you when it's decision-making time.
2. Let your interviewer speak.
Whether it's a phone interview or in person, be careful not to interrupt or talk over others.
Even if you think you know what they are going to ask and are eager to jump in, let them finish before you respond. Continuously interrupting the hiring manager diminishes your credibility and reduces your chances of being looked upon favorably.
3. Answer the question.
In a nerve-wracking interview, it's easy to misinterpret a question or to go off on a tangent.
Understand what the interviewer is looking for before you respond so you give the right information. Not being direct in your delivery can seem evasive.
4. Project energy.
Your interviewer will react positively to someone that is enthusiastic and genuinely interested in the job. Flat, lifeless expressions and monotone answers will not go far when your future boss is placing a high value on a potential hire that is capable of building strong relationships with company clients and bringing in new business.
5. Dress to impress.
Even if it's a casual company, always dress at least one step above what you would expect to wear on the job. Err on the side of more formal rather than less.
While a suit may not be the clothing of choice for an informal tech company, a pair of chinos, a button-down shirt, and tennis shoes may be perfect, or perhaps not enough. Do your research and check out the environment in advance.
6. Don't smell like your breakfast.
Take the necessary precautions to ensure people can't smell you before you walk through the door. Strolling in with a strong smell of bacon and pancakes with maple syrup is distracting and makes you seem unprofessional.
7. Keep your hands in view.
Awkward body language is a red flag. Practice how you will carry yourself, where you will put your hands (hint: not under the table, as that implies you're hiding something) and how you will sit (straight, shoulder back, chest open)--things that seem like they should be natural, but are easily derailed by anxiety.
8. Turn off your smartwatch.
You may get points for keeping up with technology, but if your watch, phone, or other device dings, rings, or buzzes during the interview--or worse, if you glance at them--you are sending the interviewer a message that he or she is not your first priority.
9. Park with care.
If you pulled into a reserved parking spot or squeezed your SUV into a compact space, beware--it's entirely possible that this behavior will be factored into the hiring decision.
Remember, every action is either helping or hurting you. Mind your manners even when you think no one will know or notice.
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10. Speak tactfully.
If you trash talk your old manager or divulge too much about the inner workings of your former company, the interviewer will wonder what you will say about your potential new company in the future. Use diplomacy and restraint.
11. Stand up to greet your interviewer.
Always rise to your feet and extend your hand for a handshake. This is a powerful move that shows respect, eagerness, and energy. Staying seated to shake hands implies passivity or a lack of gumption.
12. Leave the magazines alone.
One of my clients interviewed a seemingly ideal candidate with impeccable credentials. She sailed through the interview, but on the way out helped herself to a magazine from the lobby. Little things mean a lot, and that one move called her judgment into question and cost her the job.
13. Double-check the names in your thank-you notes.
You may have promptly sent off thank-you notes, but if you didn't double-check the spelling of the recipients, you could have undermined your efforts.
Remember, for a group interview, always write an individual thank-you to each interviewer. If you're not 100 percent sure of the names, call and ask the receptionist (who happens to be your new ally, since you were so pleasant when you arrived) for assistance.