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Why You Need Good Job Interview Etiquette

By Nicole Cavazos

So you’re a little bit late for a job interview. Or your phone keeps beeping with texts while you’re there. Or your shoes look a little scruffy. No one will notice, right?

But although those things might not seem like a big deal in every day life, they stand out to prospective employers. Remember, that they’re in scrutinizing mode. Every little thing, from the way you greet them to what you wear to how you end the interview is being processed whether consciously or subconsciously.

So yes, when you’re looking for a job, the little things really do matter. Never underestimate the power of thoughtfulness. A well written thank you note or a bit of pre-interview preparation can mean the difference between getting hired or not. Here are some ways to make sure you have good job interview etiquette.

Arrive on TimeThis should be a no-brainer. Arriving late, even if it’s five minutes, sends a strong message to the employer that you’re unreliable. Yes, sometimes there are extenuating circumstances that cause you to be late, even when you’ve allotted plenty of time. Bad traffic, flat tire, alien invasions. In those cases, you chalk it up to bad luck and hope you can win points in other areas during the interview.

But most of the time, you should always aim to get to an interview at least 15 minutes early. This gives you a chance to pull your thoughts together and contend with a little traffic if necessary.

Look ProfessionalEven if you’re not sure about the company’s dress code, always opt for professional attire during an interview. The employees might be dressed for the beach, but YOU’RE not an employee. Showing up for in an interview in shorts and flip-flops only shows that you’re not serious, about the job or anything else.

Pay attention to details. No matter how nice your suit is, if your nails are ragged, your shoes are shabby or your hair is untidy, you’re going to look like you can’t quite pull it together. Taking time to think about your appearance shows respect for the position as well as the employer.

Don’t Waste Anyone’s TimeRemember that it’s likely the employer is meeting many candidates. The easier you make it for them, the more points you’ll win. This starts of course with being on time for the interview, but it also includes being prepared. Arrive bearing the appropriate materials, including your resume, samples and/or a portfolio. Think about what you want to say so that you aren’t rambling. Make sure you’ve done your homework about the company so that you can give relevant answers and ask relevant questions.

And finally be friendly and sociable, but make sure to let the employer take the lead. Don’t interrupt the interviewer and listen carefully to what they’re saying. Make sure that you’re actually answering the questions not the ones you wish they were.

Be GraciousMake sure your cell phone is silenced and put away. You want to give the interviewer your undivided attention. If you didn’t have the forethought to silence your phone, it shows that the interview may not be your primary focus. If you do forget, simply apologize and quickly turn it off (hint: don’t check the display screen!).

Don’t forget to say thank you at the close of an interview as well as in a thank you note after you leave. You should send notes to everyone who was in the interview no later than a day or two later. An email is fine, but a handwritten note is better.

Finally, remember your most potent weapon in an interview might be your smile. Hiring managers, like every other human, are drawn to people who exude warmth and kindness. An employer might be willing to overlook a few other shortcomings if they like you.

Nicole Cavazos

Nicole Cavazos is a Los Angeles-based copywriter and blogger. As a former contributor to the ZipRecruiter blog, she covered the job market and wrote advice for job seekers.

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