Job interview tips and etiquette

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By Emmanuel Zvada

INTERVIEWS are your chance to sell your skills and abilities. The impression you make on the interviewer often outweighs your credentials, hence you need to know various interview tips and etiquette.

Your poise, attitude, basic social skills, and ability to communicate are evaluated along with your experience and education. An interview is a long sales pitch in which you are selling yourself and you want the company to buy your skills, experience and attitude.

During interviews, you and the interviewer must engage in a conversation so that you can  mutualy exchange  information and ideas.

It is only through such a dialogue that you can both determine if you, the organisation, and the job are well matched. It is during this time that bad manners and poor interview etiquette can destroy the good name that has been potrayed by your curriculum vitae.

Someone who displays the right etiquette and is well mannered at the job interview will enable the interviewers to warm to them and this will give you a real competitive advantage over other people who many be interviewed for the job.

What is job interview etiquette?

An interview is nothing but an interaction between the employer and potential employee where the employer tries to judge the individual on various parameters for prospective employment in the organisation.

Interview etiquette refers to codes of conduct an individual must follow while appearing for an interview.  An individual must do well in interviews, so whether you are a seasoned professional, new to the job market or returning to work, it is always a good idea to brush up on the basics of interview etiquette.

Prepare, prepare, prepare

Taking time to prepare is the most important thing you can do before an interview. Preparing for an interview mainly means taking time to thoughtfully consider your goals and qualifications relative to the position and employer.

To accomplish this, you should carry out research on the company and carefully review the job description to understand why you would be a good fit.

When you prepare for a job interview, take note of your skills that relate to the role and think of how your experience and abilities can contribute to the overall goals of the department and company. Preparations help you to be positive and share relevant information during the interview.

Dress etiquette

When attending an interview, the way you dress is of particular importance. First impressions are important, and the way you dress for the interview will be one of the major elements in creating the right or wrong impression. What you wear to an interview can be equally as important as the skills stated in your resume.

The choice of clothes and how you present yourself should exude confidence and a good work ethic. It is encouraged that before an interview, you should try to assess the place and people and have a good idea of what would be the best outfit.

Aim to dress in professional attire, even if the company has a relaxed dress code. It is discouraged to dress provocatively during interviews, for example men’s tight shirts or trousers that show muscular features are not appropriate.

Similarly for women, low-cut or tight tops and short skirts must be avoided. While they may turn their eyes and be good to you, it has been proven that managers tend to hire people who are not dressed provocatively.

Be punctual for the interview

It is mandatory to be on time for a job interview as this will show your future boss that you are always punctual and organised. You should know that if you are not 10 minutes early, you are 10 minutes late.

One big turn off is being late for a job interview. Whatever the reason, any interviewer is likely to lose patience with anyone who is late.

Even if unexpected traffic conditions have caused the problem, the interviewer tends not to look beyond the fact that you are late.

Accordingly, it is best to plan to arrive close to the location of the prospective employer ahead of time. It will then be possible to arrive at the reception a few minutes early and be in time for the interview.

Last-minute rush will make you appear disorganised and you may not be able to carry yourself well in the interview.

Don’t interrupt the interviewer

While it is necessary to be able to talk about yourself in a positive way, you will need to be careful to let the conversation be two-way. The interviewer will want to ask questions, so be aware of this so that they can get into the conversation rather than just listening to a continuous sales pitch about yourself.

I remember there was one applicant who did all the talking that I never got the chance to open my mouth. Then there was another one who always interrupted and completed all my sentences for me. If you think this is a strategy to buy time, it won’t work. The interviewer may think you are acting fresh or being too aggressive.

Be honest and truthful

One key element of job interview etiquette is to be truthful and honest. If an interviewer discovers you are lying, then he will not want to employ you. Honesty also impacts how much you can claim you have done.

Presenting your actual strengths, weaknesses, interests, abilities and skills as positively as possible is critically important during an interview.

Being honest in interviews helps to keep employer expectations more realistic and attainable, which will ultimately benefit you in the long run. It makes you trusted, likable and adds to your credibility.

Prepare questions to ask

Asking questions will confirm your interest in the position. If something is vague, you may ask for clarification. However, do not ask too many questions. You may pose at least two or three intelligent questions throughout the interview to convince your interviewer that you are the most competent candidate for the position.

Always prepare questions to ask after the interview. However, do not ask questions about wages and benefits, unless those issues are raised by the interviewer.

Prepare sensible questions, such as what would you expect me to accomplish in this job etc.

Say thank you after the interview

After the interview process, it is crucial to thank the interviewers for their time. Interviewers will generally be busy and will often have many interviews to conduct beyond undertaking their normal jobs.

A short thank you at the end of the interview makes the interview end on the right note.

This will give you an edge over others because few people have the courtesy to do this and it shows that you are someone who does not take things for granted.

Not only is it good for the interviewers to know that their time was appreciated, it also buttresses your chances of getting the job.

There is no better way to nail your interview than to possess proper etiquette.

What you wear, how you greet, what you say can affect the outcome.

We should all know that impressing prospective employers takes more than outstanding credentials.

Employers want considerate workers who are cognisant of proper behaviour and job interview etiquette.

Such people reflect well on the company and contribute to a harmonious work environment.

  • Emmanuel Zvada is a human capital consultant and international recruitment expert