Finding a Job, Then and Now: 4 – Interview Etiquette
A lot has changed in the last few months regarding what to wear for a job interview.
But what hasn’t changed much is interview etiquette: the things you do before, during, and after a job interview that help you come across as the professional you are…and help you receive a job offer from the employer.
Etiquette before the interview, then
- If you can’t make it to a job interview, you let the interviewer know as soon as possible by calling on the phone. You gave a good reason (yes, you said why you couldn’t make it), which could only be because of illness/accident on the part of you or a loved one.
- If you were running late, you called as soon as possible. (and if you already were in the car and on your way, you found a phone booth and called). You gave a reason (bad traffic, a sick child/spouse, and you had to arrange care), and you offered to come in later or arrange another day time.
- If you decided you didn’t want to interview with the company, you called the interviewer/recruiter as soon as possible to let them know. You thank them warmly for the opportunity to interview with them and you wished them much luck in finding someone terrific for the position.
Etiquette before the interview, now
As mentioned above, this hasn’t changed much:
- If you find you can’t make it to the job interview, you let the interviewer know as soon as possible via phone, email, or even text (if you know the interviewer accepts them on their phone). You also must have a really good reason. You ask to reschedule.
- If you’re running late, you call on the phone ASAP. Don’t text (if in traffic). You also ask to reschedule if that’s best for the interviewer.
- If you decide you don’t want to interview, you email a professional explanation asap. You can call (but don’t text) or email.
During the interview, then
- You arrived at least 15 minutes early. You were dressed in professional interview attire. You brought a few copies of your resume.
- Once introduced to your interviewer, you looked the interviewer directly into their eyes, smiled, gave a firm handshake, and waited until invited to sit down.
- You sat up straight in your chair, somewhat – but not completely – on the edge of it.
- You answered questions thoughtfully, all while looking the interviewer in the eye and smiling.
- You leaned forward in your seat (to show enthusiasm). You didn’t speak in a monotone, and you didn’t mumble.
- You asked questions about the position, why it’s open, questions about the hiring managers’ goals/challenges, etc.
- You did NOT ask about employee benefits, vacation time, etc. (You waited until your final interview for that information.)
- At the end of the interview, you again smiled, thanked the interviewer for the interview, and gave a firm handshake.
- Bonus points if you asked about “next steps” in the interview process.
- MAJOR bonus points if you asked for the position.
During the interview, now
If interviewing for the position in person, etiquette hasn’t changed. At all!
If interviewing via video:
- Sign on at least 10 minutes early so that you can check your appearance and video settings.
- At the very least, dress professionally from the waist up.
- Before the interview, aim to practice staring into your camera, not at your screen. Looking at the camera makes it appear as if you’re looking directly at your interviewer (as if you were together in person).
Etiquette for an online interview pretty much follows etiquette for an in-person interview today: ask thoughtful questions; show enthusiasm; wait to ask about benefits, etc.; ask about next steps (and ask for the job).
After the interview, then
- Send a simple handwritten thank-you note: “Thank you for interviewing me. I look forward to hearing from you.”
- Wait by the phone or mailbox for news about your candidacy: will you be asked in for a second interview or have they decided on another candidate?
After the interview, now
In many ways, your job interview continues:
- As soon as possible (within 24 hours, max), send an email thanking the interviewer for the chance to interview.
- But don’t just thank them for their time. Nope! Mention something you failed to mention during the interview or reiterate a key point. Frame it in a way that shows how you’re a great candidate: “As a junior accountant at my previous employer, I revamped the entire accounts payable process – making it much more efficient and accurate.”
- Clarify something you think was confusing to the interviewer: “I wasn’t clear when I mentioned I decided to leave my last two employers due to personal reasons. I left both because, over time, the commute became far too long.”
- Ask for the position again: “I think I would be a great fit for the team and sincerely hope you select me for the position. I look forward to hearing from you.”
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