Job Interview Etiquette | First Impressions, Behavior and Dress Code

When conducting job interviews, employers often evaluate more than the interviewee’s responses to their questions. They form first impressions based on an individual’s dress, behavior, body language and manners. In fact, how you conduct yourself in a job interview can help you get hired. This article will discuss the importance of job interview etiquette and good etiquette practices.

Why is job interview etiquette important?

Job interview etiquette is key to making a great first impression on an employer. Interviewers will notice how you dress, how you greet them, what time you arrive and how you conduct yourself. When you behave and speak professionally and politely, you set a positive tone for the rest of the interview. Your etiquette can affect whether you get the job.

Best job interview etiquette tips

Follow these job interview etiquette tips to help you make a positive first impression on an interviewer:

Dress appropriately for the interview according to the job and industry

Dress codes for interviews are unique to the job and company you’re applying for. In the past, it was easy to dress for interviews because candidates would usually wear formal business attire to all of their interviews. But wearing a business suit may not be mandatory depending on your location and industry. 

However, there are guidelines that you should follow when dressing for an interview. You should be well-groomed and neat looking. Your outfit should fit you well and should be clean. Avoid wearing distracting statement accessories or heavy perfumes or colognes if possible. You should dress as formally or slightly more formally than the interviewer to show them that you’re taking this opportunity seriously. 

Generally, conservative industries like finance, large business and law will expect candidates to dress in formal business attire for their first interview. Interviews for jobs in an office will expect candidates to dress as formally or slightly more formally than their office dress code. For less traditional industries like sales, food service and construction, you are probably not expected to wear formal business attire, but you should still dress professionally for the industry you want to be hired in.

Bring everything you need to the interview to look prepared and professional

Be prepared for your interview by bringing copies of your resume, a list of references and questions to ask the employer. Also, bring a high-quality binder or notepad to take notes. If you are interviewing for a digital or technology position, you might bring a laptop for note-taking or showing examples of your work. Keep your phone hidden and turned off to avoid rude disruptions.

Plan to arrive five to ten minutes early for the interview

Arrive five to ten minutes early to show that you are dependable and prompt. This also gives you time to calm yourself, use the restroom or straighten up your appearance. 

Greet everyone you meet before, during and after the interview politely and respectfully

Greet everyone you meet in the office politely, from the receptionist to the security guard. The hiring manager could ask anyone for feedback about you, and the person you rode in the elevator with might just be the CEO. Show respect for your interviewers by greeting them as Mr. or Ms. Introduce yourself, say, ‘It’s a pleasure to meet you’ and give them a firm handshake. Then, follow their lead in the conversation. If someone else comes into the room during the interview, stand up as a sign of respect.

Use body language to show confidence and competence

Your posture and behaviors can communicate nonverbal messages—whether deliberate or accidental—to the interviewer. Walk into the room confidently and with your shoulders back and head high. Once seated, sit up straight and lean forward toward the interviewer slightly to show you are paying attention and interested in what they are saying. Avoid crossing your arms, fidgeting with your hands or performing nervous habits such as playing with your hair.

Build a connection and trust with the interviewer by maintaining eye contact and smiling naturally. Doing so can also help you look confident and friendly.

Stay calm and follow the interviewer’s lead in conversation

Respond to interview questions thoughtfully and concisely. Follow the interviewer’s lead, even during moments of silence. If you let the interviewer set the pace of the discussion, you will be less likely to ramble or talk too much, especially if you are nervous.

Ask questions throughout and after the interview to show you’re interested

Take notes throughout the interview to show that you are interested and paying attention. Write down questions you want to ask the interviewer later. If you are engaged in the conversation and passionate about the position, they will expect you to ask questions about things like job duties or company culture.

End the interview confidently

At the end of the interview, let the interviewer know you are interested in the job and express that you think you are a good fit for the position. Thank them for their time, and ask them what the next step in the process is. Maintain your professional posture and etiquette until you have left the property. 

Be mindful of table manners during lunch or dinner interviews

Good etiquette and behavior are particularly crucial during interviews over meals. Before you arrive, review proper table manners, such as eating with your mouth closed, waiting until everyone has received their food and laying your napkin in your lap. Avoid drinking alcohol. Be prepared to handle unexpected situations (such as spills) calmly, and treat the waitstaff with respect. Meal interviews are opportunities for you to show your social skills.

Follow up on interviews and thank them for their time

Thank the interviewers for their time by sending a thank-you email after the interview is done. In your message, repeat your interest and enthusiasm for the job and why you think you are a great fit.

Take advantage of a job interview to make an excellent first impression on an employer. During an interview, hiring managers are assessing not only whether you are the right candidate but also whether they want to work alongside you, and if you conduct yourself in a confident and approachable way.