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Job Interviews Etiquette

The job interview process can be one of those nerve racking life exercises that we have to go through every so often. For some people this happens more than others, for example if you’re a contractor or consultant.

We are often told that interviewer will make certain decisions about you in the first few seconds of the interview based on their first impressions. After the first impressions there are still other factors that come into play in the hiring decisions.

You need to remember that the interview is just the formal means of assessing your suitability as a candidate. Your success is dependent on how well you present yourself and how you answer the questions posed to you.

This article discusses the factors that you need to be aware of to have a successful interview.

Turn off your cellphone

There are few things more embarrassing then having your cellphone ring during an interview. Also make sure to turn off any other personal electronics before the interview starts.

Dress accordingly

At an interview the manner of your dress should fit the occasion, but you should dress just a step above the norm for that environment.

Present a positive personal image

At an interview you should always remember that you’re selling yourself to that company, so you always need to present a professional positive image.

  • Look the interviewer in the eye.
  • Good posture conveys your interest in being there
  • Use a firm hand shake when you meet your interviewer.
  • Address each interviewer by their name.
  • Avoid fidgeting it’s a sign of nervousness.

Be prepared

Make sure that you have everything you need for the interview.

  • Review the job description before starting the interview.
  • Study up on the company, and make sure that you understand its target markets, industry, and competitors.
  • Make sure that you know how to get to the interview location and that you leave in enough time to get there 10-15 minutes before the interview starts.
  • Make sure that you know the name of the first person you’re meeting with. You will need this information when you talk to the receptionist.

Be confident and not cocky

Confidence is the knowledge that you’re smart but not afraid to ask others questions.Cocky is thinking you know everything.Cockiness can be a turn off to potential employers.Employers are not looking for heroes (e.g. people who think they know everything), they’re looking for team players.

Give quantifiable answers

It’s easy for anyone to say something such as, “I improved product quality” or “I saved the company money”. It’s more important when you quantify your statements, for example “I improved product quality by 10%, by…” or “I saved the company $100,000 by…”

Finding the solution

If you don't know the answer to questions, don't be afraid to ask the interviewer for more information about what they’re looking or for their opinions.Also make sure to utilize the whiteboard.It’s more important that you know how to find the answers then knowing it off the top of your head.

Below are some questions to ask the interviewer to get a greater understanding of the solution to the problem that they’re looking for:

  • What are the design requirements?
  • What are the business requirements?
  • What are the budgetary requirements?
  • What are the time frame requirements?
  • What are the technical requirements?
  • What are the security requirements?

Summarize and repeat back what was asked.

Listen first

Listen to be sure you understand your interviewer's questions before you answer them. If it’s a long question, summarize and repeat it back to them for clarification.It also may help if you take notes.

Give concise answers

When answering questions get to the point, and don't waste time by giving too much detail.

Talking about failures

Some interviewers will ask about a failure that you had and how you dealt with it. So be prepared for this question, make sure that whatever example you use has a positive ending with you turning it around.

Ask the interviewer questions

Always ask the interviewer questions (e.g. about the group, environment, job responsibilities, etc.).

Closing the Job Interview

At the end of the interview process, don't forget to emphasize how much you would like to join the company or asking what the next step in the process. (For more information check out the following article).

Thank you letters

Send thank you letters after an interview to the interviewer(s) generally within 24 hours after meeting with them.You might need to ask for their card, or if necessary send them through the person that arranged the interview for you.


Things to avoid:

Avoid criticizing previous employers

Avoid being critical or saying other negative things about previous employers or their employees, it doesn’t help the interview process and may give the interviewer a negative impression of you. Be prepared to say something positive about them, or avoid the question all together if possible.

Never lie about or overemphasizing your experience

For many reasons never lie about or wildly embellish your accomplishments or experience.  Also be careful about overemphasizing your skills, technical ability and certification are important but that is not going to be your only job.  Remember to not just emphasis your skills but how you can be part of the team.

Other things to avoid:

  • Lack of interest: keep your mind focused on the interview, don't let it wonder off.
  • Being too casual: keep a professional mindset at all times.
  • Being too negative: be aware of what you're saying, an interview is not a good place to express your opinions or beliefs that can come across as negative.
  • Avoid talking about perks: save your questions about vacation time, sick time and other perks for when they extend you an offer. 
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