While the strictness of Emily Post has been toned down slightly over the years, there are certain aspects of the job hunt that require a formal level of etiquette. It’s as imperative to have these rules on had as it is to have a solid resume. No matter how good your qualifications may be, there are aspects of the process that require finesse or you are less likely to be considered for the job you want.
Though this may seem obvious, dress properly for the position. The usual rule is, just like wedding attire, you cannot be overdressed for your job interview. As a male, my suggestion is if you have a suit, always wear a suit. If you do not have a suit, borrow a suit. For women, consider business formal wear. Wear your best shoes. The impression you want to make is that you care deeply about this position. Even if the interview is via Skype, dressing formally just gives you an air of gravitas. This also means making sure your personal appearance is spot on. Be washed and quaffed.
SMILE AND MAKE EYE CONTACT
The most important aspect of an interview is to show that you will fit in with the culture of a business. That means you want to make sure you are pleasant, communicative, and open. Part of this is body language. Try to make eye contact, smile, and to avoid things like crossing your arms or lounging in your chair. Be attentive, look eager, and take notes (that means you need to bring something to write on and something to write with).
Typos can crush your career dreams, particularly if you are looking for a position where meticulous editing is key. Scour your resume and cover letter as well as any email correspondence to make sure you haven’t made mistakes in grammar, syntax or spelling. I once knew a hiring manager who would throw out an application if the watermark on the paper was backward or upside down. Be careful.
WRITE A GENEROUS THANK YOU NOTE
The interview is not the end of the process. Afterward, it is imperative to write a stellar thank you note. Mention everyone you met by name and if possible hand write and mail the note by post. Here are some ideas on how to perfect your thank you by Tiny Prints.
ALWAYS FOCUS ON STRENGTHS
Perhaps there is something in your application that you feel is a glaring issue. For example, maybe the position listing asks for someone with a graduate degree and you do not have one. Do not be the one to bring this up. Never refer to any of your deficiencies unless expressly asked. There is simply no reason to do so — don’t do it in your cover letter or in interview. If they are interested in hearing about something they feel needs explanation they will inquire.
Even if the person interviewing you is acting conversational and casual, remain formal. Just because they kick their shoes off, doesn’t mean you have leave to do the same. This is especially important if your interview is over a lunch or dinner. Do not get an alcoholic drink, even if your prospective employer is getting one and asks if you’d like one. Do not order the most expensive thing on the menu, even if you are relatively sure your interviewer is picking up the bill. Be neat. Try not to spill. Do not get anything that is heavily sauced if you can avoid it.
ALWAYS HAVE QUESTIONS PREPARED
There is nothing that is less satisfying for an interviewer than reaching the end of an interview and asking that all important question: “So, do you have any questions for me?” and receiving nothing in return. “I think you answered all my questions” is not an acceptable answer. Put together a list of questions that demonstrate that you have done some research on the employers and that you have a vested interest in the position. Great questions to ask include:
- What do you see a typical day here being like?
- What would you say the overall philosophy of the office is?
- What are some benchmarks of success in this position, how do you see this going well?
- Are there mistakes that other people in the position have made? How would I learn from them?
- What is something about this company that you wish people knew that you don’t think they currently understand?
DO YOUR RESEARCH
Before interview time, check their website and social media profiles too and be familiar with the position and all those on staff that will have a part in it.
With these 8 solid tips, you will be prepared to impress on that all important interview. Try not to be too stressed and lastly, it can never hurt to have a breath mint on hand.