Have an upcoming interview? You’ll need more than a polished resume to stand out as the top choice. This guide outlines proper job interview etiquette from start to finish, so you’re ready at every step in the process.
Learn how to act in an interview (and what to avoid doing) so that you can conquer your fears and land that role.
Job Interview Etiquette: Before the Interview
You only get one chance to make a great first impression. These three strategies are tried and true methods that job seekers should use.
1. Arrive Early
Nothing says unprofessional like walking into the interview past the scheduled start time; this is not how to act in a job interview. Start on the right foot by arriving 10–15 minutes early for the interview. You’ll likely be asked to wait in a reception area. Here, you can collect your thoughts and mentally review answers to common interview questions.
Do: Build in an extra time cushion to your commute to account for unexpected traffic or delays.
Don’t: Arrive more than 15 minutes early. This may be an inconvenience to the interviewer.
2. Dress Well
The way you present yourself speaks to your enthusiasm for the position. Showing up looking neat and well put together lets the interviewer know you care about the role and understand how to be professional. If you’re unsure how formal to dress, remember that it is better to be overdressed than underdressed for a job interview. Opt for neutral tones and crease-free items when deciding what to wear to your interview.
Do: Try on your outfit ahead of time and practice sitting, walking, and moving around in the clothes.
Don’t: Wear something you feel uncomfortable or awkward in. If your clothes are ill-fitting or uncomfortable, the interviewer will pick up on it.
3. Prepare like a True Professional
Practicing answers in your head or in front of a mirror can be helpful. But you’ll need to get serious about interview preparation to really wow the interviewer. To learn proper interview etiquette, getting feedback is key.
With InterviewFocus, you can participate in multiple practice interviews and receive detailed feedback on your areas of strength and areas for improvement. This information will help you adjust your speaking, posture, eye contact levels, and more so that you can perform well when it counts.
Another key element of preparation is researching the company. A surprising amount of candidates neglect this step. So, as you prepare in mock interviews, be sure to answer questions about the company’s history, mission, values, and more.
Do: Participate in multiple rounds of practice before the big day.
Don’t: Think that mock interviews with your family or friends will suffice. While these faux interviews can help, they won’t give you in-depth and actionable feedback that can make or break the interview.
Job Interview Etiquette: During the Interview
It’s time for the interview! Take a deep breath and follow these guidelines so you come across confident and collected.
1. Use Confident Body Language
We all know that a strong handshake is important. But don’t neglect nonverbal communication after sitting down. Sitting up straight with your shoulders back makes you appear open and confident.
One psychological tip that you can implement is called mirroring. When you match the interviewer’s movements, it creates the impression that the two of you are connecting well. Mirroring is best done with subtle motions like a nod, hand placement, or gesture.
Do: Convey confidence with a strong and open posture.
Don’t: Slouch in your seat or make distracting movements with your body (i.e., tapping your leg repeatedly on the floor)
2. Establish Eye Contact
Building trust with the interviewer is essential. One impactful method of doing so is by utilizing eye contact. This simple gesture lets the interviewer see that you are engaged in the conversation and listening attentively.
If you are participating in a virtual interview, look into your computer’s camera, not the screen where the interviewer’s eyes are. This can take some getting used to, so practice ahead of time.
Do: Avoid looking at your watch or the clock on the wall when breaking eye contact. This can lead the interviewer to think you are eager to leave.
Don’t: Feel the need to make constant eye contact throughout the interview. Employ an appropriate amount of eye contact so that you come off as interested, not odd.
3. Speak Clearly
A well-spoken candidate is well on the way to mastering job interview etiquette. When answering questions, respond clearly and audibly. If you have a naturally quiet voice, practice projecting during your mock interviews. If you’re naturally loud, make sure you modulate your voice to not yell your responses.
As you speak, don’t be afraid to let your personality shine through. This will help the interviewer determine whether you would be a good fit with the company culture. Above all, avoid using filler words like “uh,” “um,” or “like”. Take a breather between answers and even between sentences. It’s better to have pauses than to ramble or use filler words.
Do: Speak with certainty. “I know that I can…” is more powerful than, “I think that I could….”
Don’t: Speak too quickly or mumble. Your answers are worth hearing. So project them with confidence.
4. Give the Interviewer Your Full Attention
It sounds simple. But your mind can wander or be distracted, especially when nerves are high. If the interviewer gets the impression that you are not paying attention, your chances of landing the role dwindle. So concentrate on the task at hand.
If it helps, have a paper and pen out during the interview to take notes. In addition to helping you focus, writing things down will prevent you from fidgeting nervously.
Do: Turn off your cell phone completely. This distracting device can ruin your chances of making a good first impression.
Don’t: Zone out while the interviewer is speaking. If you miss an important piece of information, there’s no guarantee that it will be repeated.
Job Interview Etiquette: After the Interview
We’ve covered how to act in a job interview. Now it’s time to discuss how to end the process professionally.
1. Be Kind on Your Way Out
You can breathe a sigh of relief now that the hardest part is over. But remember that anyone you come across could have a say in hiring decisions. Carry yourself with poise as you leave. Say goodbye to the receptionist, smile at people in the hallway, and make an effort to be genuine and kind to others.
Do: Treat everyone you cross paths with in a friendly manner.
Don’t: Assume the interview is over when you leave the room. Remain professional as you exit the building.
2. Send a Thank You Note
Last but not least, express your gratitude with a short note to the hiring manager. Not all candidates will take the time to do this, so this act sets you apart from others. It also reaffirms your enthusiasm about the role.
After the interview, write down a few memorable highlights. This can be something you and the interviewer connected about or an interesting fact they shared with you. Include this in your post-interview thank you note so that it feels personal.
Do: Send the note within 24 hours of your interview.
Don’t: Include inquiries about hiring decisions in the letter. This is strictly a note expressing gratitude for the opportunity.
Master Your Interview Manners with InterviewFoucs
Follow a tried and battle-tested path to success with the mock interview and technology as well as the coaching feedback sessions at InterviewFocus. Whether you’re gearing up for a virtual interview or an in-person meeting, the skills you cultivate through our mock interviews are sure to come in handy. Try InterviewFocus today to experience the awesome benefits firsthand!