Job Interview Etiquette 101

Many job seekers think that the hardest part of applying for a job is doing well during the interview process. That is because applicants have a limited amount of time to present their skills and explain why they deserve the job.

In general, job seekers are competing against other applicants with similar skills, which increases the stress of the situation. Depending on the job someone applies for, he or she may have to participate in multiple job interviews before getting hired.

A common mistake you may make during the job interview process is expecting the hiring manager to ask all the questions. If you want to excel during the job interview, you must be prepared to ask your own questions.

However, keep in mind that your questions must be relevant to the job you are applying for. If you do not show proper workplace interview etiquette, you may hurt your chances of getting a job.

Prepare for the Job Interview

Proper workplace interview etiquette begins before you arrive for the interview. What you wear to a job interview can determine what first impression you give to the person interviewing you. When you dress for an interview, you want to dress based around the position you are applying for.

If you are applying for a professional job, always dress in your best business attire. If the position is in a more casual environment, such as a store or restaurant, you can dress in a more relaxed manner.

One good tip is to always select an outfit that is slightly more conservative than you believe you would dress for the job itself. No matter what job you are applying for, make sure your appearance is neat and tidy.

In addition to preparing your outfit, it is important to prepare for the question portion of a workplace interview. This includes getting answers ready for common interview questions, as well as planning your own questions. The questions vary depending on the job.

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Take the time to look up general information about the company so you can work this information into your answers. Look through the job listing to see what the most important skills are. Whenever possible, try to emphasize these skills when you are answering your questions. If you seem disinterested in the job or do not show an understanding of what skills are expected, you risk making a poor impression.

In addition to preparing for specialized questions, think about your answers to common job interview questions, such as why you want to work for the company and what your strengths and weaknesses are. Even if you have heard these questions dozens of times before, do not be dismissive of them during the interview. You may be tempted to give a joke answer to lighten the mood, but this comes off as unprofessional and hurts your chances of getting a job.

Practice Professional Body Language

The outfit you wear helps with making a first impression, but it is not the only determining factor. If you have poor body language, you present a negative image.

Poor body language can cause you to look unprofessional, or it may give the impression you are not taking the interview seriously. There are a few common body language tips to follow:

  • Always make eye contact with the hiring manager or anyone else present when he or she is speaking.
  • Keep your arms relaxed. Crossed arms make you look either overly confident or aggressive.
  • Fidgeting too much during an interview makes you seem anxious. Light hand gestures are fine, but try and limit the rest of your movements, especially when you are listening to someone speak.
  • Avoid leaning away from the speaker, as this suggests you are disinterested in what he or she is saying.
  • Practice shaking hands. A good handshake is brief, firm and friendly.

Develop A Proper Greeting

When you arrive for the interview, make sure you greet the receptionist and let him or her know who you are and what you are there for. Treat the receptionist with as much respect as you would the hiring manager conducting the interview.

When you are waiting in the lobby, practice good body language. You do not want the hiring manager to come out and find you scrolling through your phone or looking through your resume, since it makes you seem unprepared for the interview and suggests you are not serious about the job.

When the hiring manager arrives, be polite and let him or her guide the conversation. Be prepared for basic small talk before the proper interview begins. During the small talk portion, remain relatively professional.

It is okay to relax a little, but you want to maintain a professional manner overall. You and the interviewer are still strangers, and if you get too relaxed you may give the impression you are disrespectful.

Respond to Interview Questions

The bulk of your interview success depends on how well you answer questions from the interviewer. Listen carefully to each question and take at least a few seconds to prepare your answer. Do not panic and try to answer a question right away.

This can result in stammering and fumbling over your words, which gives a poor impression. When this happens, it looks like you are making up your answer on the fly, and this does not inspire confidence from the hiring manager.

It is perfectly normal and expected to take a few seconds to form your answer before responding. Keep your responses informative, but brief. Hiring managers want focused answers relating to the job you are applying for.

Ask Your Own Questions

In addition to answering questions, you must engage the hiring manager with your own questions. By asking questions, you develop a relationship with the interviewer while showing you took the time to learn about the company and understand the position you are applying for.

Make sure your questions are not too basic. If they are, the interviewer may question your qualifications. For example, asking about a typical day in the position you are applying for is fine, but asking what you have to do in the position makes it sound like you did not look up the job qualifications.

When asking questions, try to avoid questions where you put yourself ahead of the company. These questions include personal vacation time, health benefits or salary. These are important subjects, but you want the interviewer to bring them up, not you.

Additionally, do not overwhelm your interviewer with questions. Ask questions one at a time and avoid multi-part questions. Avoid simple yes or no questions, since these are not conducive to building a conversation.

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