A job interview requires careful preparation on the applicant’s part, using the time leading up to the interview to develop meaningful answers to the predictable list of routine questions. But, an interview is NOT a one sided interrogation, rather a two-way conversation where both parties get their answers met. It is also a prime opportunity to communicate your own key messages.
Here are some etiquette tips to keep in mind before your next job interview:
- Verbalize your enthusiasm. You can have the most impressive resume in the world, but there’s no substitute for genuine eagerness. This is best conveyed by an honest remark such as, “I think this is an amazing company and I would love to be a part of your team.” A future employer wants to know you are excited about the possibility of being hired on by the organization.
- Share your knowledge of the company. Thoroughly research the company website, their social media presence, executive blogs, and any recent media coverage they have received. Let them know you’ve done your homework and that you’re not just tossing your resume into a sea of opportunities, waiting for the first offer. I once interviewed a young woman, who at first glance, seemed to be a perfect fit. The interview went awry from the start. She forgot her resume, asked for a pen, and proceeded to request information about “what kind of business” she was applying for. On paper she looked like a good candidate, but after a few short seconds it was clear she was ill prepared.
- Highlight the qualifications that make you a superstar. Use this opportunity to relate your accomplishments in such a way that they can be translated into how you will handle the position. For example, if you are fresh out of college and applying for an editorial position, mention that you were the editor of the university newspaper for three years, and responsible for all of the social media posts. Find a connection between what you have previously been doing, even if you weren’t paid to do it.
- Emphasize your commitment to the position. It’s only normal for an interviewer to consider your long term potential. While most college graduates will not likely stay at their first job, it’s comforting to the employer to think that an employee will stay long enough to bring true value to their business. No one wants to invest valuable time, money, and training in someone who is just practicing until they get their dream job. It may be reassuring to the hiring manager and might just sway their decision in your favor.
- Subtly exhibit your ability to be a great corporate fit. It would be counterproductive to arrive to an interview dressed too casually or too formally. This can send a message as to whether or not you are a match for the corporate culture. While diversity is more of an asset than a detriment, when it comes to selecting a new employee, you still need to mesh with your coworkers and the environment.
- Express genuine curiosity. Asking thoughtful questions will help show that you are interested in learning everything you can to help you succeed in the job. Inquiring about salary, vacation or health benefits before you have heard more about the duties will cast you in a less than positive light. Vacation and money may be your priority, but there are some issues best left for later in the interview process.
- Let them know you are ready to jump in. Ask questions about their timeline for making a decision. Let them know when you are available to start, whether it’s immediately or after giving two weeks’ notice to your current employer. Invite them to contact you if there is any other information you can offer which may help them in the decision making process. Above all, express your enthusiasm!
- Demonstrate your social skills. Good manners do count. Be sure to verbalize your appreciation for the interviewer’s time, both in person, with a follow up email the same day and a hand-written note dropped in the mail as soon as possible. These simple etiquette rules, while often overlooked, have tremendous power to set you apart from the competition.
For more of my job interview etiquette tips check out my article Business Etiquette: 6 Questions to Ask at a Job Interview on The Huffington Post.