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First impressions matter, including when you step in the door for that important job interview.  Clients have shared with me how shocked they are when job candidates arrive and exhibit poor etiquette.

So, here are some job interview etiquette tips that will make you stand out in a positive way. Whether your interview is for a first job out of college or for career advancement, you will feel more confident, competent and comfortable when you put these tips into practice.

  1. Dress to impress. In the business world, interview attire is generally a conservative suit and tie for men and skirt suits or pant suits for women. For a manual labor job, of course, one may dress more casually. Anything that’s wrinkled, too short, too tight, or shows too much skin won’t win you points.
  2. The small stuff matters, too. Yes, people do notice your shoes. Make sure they’re polished and worn heels are replaced; this shows you pay attention to details.
  3. Things to leave in the car. Water bottle, coffee cup, mobile phone in the glove box. If your phone is with you, it’s awfully easy to forget to silence it, or worse, to take a call or glance at it when it rings or vibrates. Definitely no-no’s!
  4. What to take in with you. Briefcase or portfolio with a notepad and nice pen. Maybe you normally carry a backpack but invest in a simple black portfolio for interviews. If you don’t have a “nice” pen, borrow from someone who does. It just looks classy for taking notes at the interview.
  5. Arrive a few minutes early. This gives you a chance to locate parking, find the right building/office entrance and dash into the restroom to adjust your tie and make sure you don’t have any food in your teeth. Some businesses may also require you to go through security, so build in extra time for that.
  6. Present your business card to the receptionist. This shows professionalism and confirms your name and contact information. Then, while seated in the waiting area, it’s fine to glance at a magazine, but be ready to immediately stand and shake hands when you are called to the interview area.
  7. At the interview. Before sitting down, greet each interviewer with a firm handshake and good eye contact. Use titles and surnames, (Mr. Smith, Ms. Smith) versus first names. Use your “nice” pen and portfolio for note taking. Give good eye contact to the person asking the question. If there are multiple interviewers at the table, be courteous and show eye contact to all of them as you respond to questions, not just to the person asking the question. Do not look down at your lap or feet; it conveys nervousness. However, it’s okay to look slightly to the left or right as you quickly ponder how to respond to a question; this indicates that you’re thinking.
  8. Research the company or organization before your interview. Dig into every part of the company’s website. You want to be armed with as much information about their company, products, services, and any new initiatives as your brain will hold. This information helps you respond more intelligently and favorably to some of the interviewers’ questions.
  9. How to leave the interview. Wait until the interviewer thanks you and stands. That’s your cue to stand, shake hands (again with good eye contact), with each interviewer. Use their name when you thank them. Ex: “Thank you for your time today, Mr. Smith.”
  10. Follow up with a thank-you email and a handwritten thank-you note. Keep the email brief and make sure there are no spelling or grammar errors. Again, use titles and surnames: “Dear Mr. Smith.” For the handwritten thank-you note, address the envelope before the interview and write the note that same day after the interview. Use blue or black ink. Mail it the same day if possible.

Whether you’re interviewing for a first job or for career advancement, job interview etiquette is essential to make a great impression. When you use these job interview etiquette tips, you will make a great impression in addition to being much more confident and self-assured.

You may also like to read: What To Wear For A Job Interview: 8 attire tips

Rachel Wagner is a licensed business etiquette consultant, trainer, and speaker. She is the owner of the Oklahoma-based business etiquette firm Rachel Wagner Etiquette and Protocol. 
Rachel provides onsite and LIVE virtual training on business and dining etiquette topics. She has corporate clients from many industries around the country. As an etiquette expert, she is interviewed and quoted in a variety of local and national media outlets. These include The Washington Post, MONEY, Forbes, and many more. She is also credentialed as a Virtual Event Professional and Zoom Producer.

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