I have the pleasure of working with corporations and universities on a regular basis, inviting them to share their etiquette questions and feedback. I have compiled a list of some of the most commonly asked job interview-related questions…a good read for the new grad and a great refresher for the seasoned professional!
Commonly Asked Business Etiquette Questions: The Job Interview
1. Should I use an honorific when addressing my interviewer?
Always initiate a greeting or conversation using an honorific and the interviewer’s last name. If the interviewer requests that you address him or her by their first name, by all means do so but until that time err on the side of caution.
2. How much should I talk during an interview?
While you don’t want to monopolize the entire interview with needless banter, it’s important to come across as approachable and confident. Make initial small talk but be prepared to answer job related questions with a succinct and confident response. Do research on the company and write out a draft of potential conversation topics that you will be ready to discuss when asked “Do you have any other questions?”. It’s important to always have a question ready rather than answering with “No, I think you’ve covered everything.”
3. If I am sick, should I warn the interviewer of my illness and not shake hands?
If you are well enough to make the interview, you are certainly well enough to shake hands. It is inappropriate to refuse to give, or receive, a handshake.
4. Should a woman interviewee stand up for a man interviewer?
Yes, always. Standing shows respect and courtesy for the other person.
5. Should a woman interviewer stand up for a man interviewee?
Yes, always. In business both men and women stand up for a greeting and farewell.
6. Should I initiate a double fisted handshake to show goodwill?
Absolutely not. A double fisted shake is used for close family and friends. It comes across as too familiar or patronizing when you are in a job interview or meeting someone for the first time.
7. As a man, should I give a woman a lighter handshake than I would a male counterpart?
A man who gives a woman, or another man, a light handshake sends a message that can be interpreted as weak or insecure. While your handshake should not be as firm or uncomfortable as a vice grip with either gender, a firm, but not overpowering handshake is a sign of respect both men and women.
8. If there is a foreign object in someone’s teeth, should I ignore it or tell?
Use your best judgment, depending on the situation. Discreetly letting someone know they have something in their teeth is a genuine gesture of kindness. However, the job interview may not be the best time to alert someone that there is something in their teeth. On the other hand…it may be the perfect time!
9. How many glasses of wine may I order during an interview?
None. During an interview, accepting a glass of wine or beer is a definite strike against you and a signal to the interviewer that you are not professional. Always refuse alcohol at a job interview, even if the interviewer orders a glass of wine.
10. How should I introduce myself to multiple interviewers?
Extend your hand for a handshake, make direct eye contact with each interviewer, introduce yourself with both your first and last name and don’t forget to smile. Keep your free hand out of your pocket when shaking hands.