Is Etiquette Dead in the Modern Job Interview?
Etiquette. A word that stirs up memories of a bygone era where not minding your p’s and q’s would result in a clip around the ear and audible whispers around the neighbourhood of your questionable character.
Talking about etiquette today can sound incredibly old fashioned, rigidly formal and even obsolete, especially when some past codes of etiquette were clearly biased and discriminatory. So do they still have a place in the modern world or is it time to move on from them entirely and embrace a wholly relaxed, informal and non-judgemental approach?
Well, some forms of etiquette have stuck around for good reason, so here are my top picks of etiquette tips that I think are still relevant and that stand out in the job interview process:
For both parties:
- Keep it professional and avoid being too familiar by using words like ‘babe’ and ‘mate’, it can make the vibe in the interview super awkward and uncomfortable
- Mind the aroma - smelling of cigarettes, body odour or too strong cologne/perfume is an unwelcome distraction and is guaranteed to leave a bad impression
- Be on time – arriving 15+ minutes before an interview is too early, getting there 5+ minutes after the interview start time is too late, but getting there 5 minutes prior is just right. Everyone’s time is worth the same, so being on time is fair and respectful.
- A firm handshake from non-clammy hands projects confidence and capability as does looking people in the eye and smiling
- Thank the other party for taking the time to meet, you’ve both taken time out of your busy days, so it’s polite to acknowledge this
- Keep the questions relevant and professional, while generic small talk at the start of the interview is totally acceptable in order to break the ice, asking about personal relationships or asking what a person’s private life goals are for the future is a step too far. Also be aware of what questions you can and cannot legally ask – to find out more read this blog: Know Your Rights: Illegal Interview Questions
- Be fair and accommodating; the person you’re interviewing will probably be nervous and feel like they have to perform under a glaring spotlight, so try to make them feel comfortable – you’ll also get a more accurate picture of their strengths this way
- Get back to everyone you interview in a timely fashion and provide constructive feedback to unsuccessful job applicants. Prompt communication will keep potential employees engaged and telling unsuccessful applicants why they didn’t get the job is courteous and reflects positively on your company’s brand
For Job Applicants:
- Actively listen and answer the question without going off on a tangent or sharing your life story - keep it succinct and to the point, you’ll demonstrate your great verbal communication skills and attention to detail this way
- Be honest about your past work experience and current skill set without sounding super negative or stretching the truth too far, as this can trip you up further down the line. You can still be authentic and genuine if you focus on the positives rather than giving a no holds barred account
- Show genuine interest in the role and company, and put your best authentic self forward; research the company properly beforehand and prepare your answers to common questions such as ‘what can you bring to the role?’
Taking on-board these job interview etiquette tips will leave both employers and prospective employees with a good impression of each other and can ultimately help ‘seal the deal’ as they say.
Written by Alisa Moore, Research & Community Manager at Gaulter Russell Numero