Every candidate going for an interview must read this one. It is common to get so fixated on saying the right things, selling yourself and focussing on the content of the interview that in the stress of the moment you can often forget some of the basics of social etiquette. It happens a lot, and these mistakes will stick in the interviewer’s mind far longer than your considered answers.
Smoking. If you are a regular smoker, it goes without saying that you should attempt not to smoke before you go in. The smell can produce most unwelcome associations for non-smokers and will linger long after you leave the room. Also, if you smoke a lot at work, it can be a good idea to take your suit to the dry cleaners and put it on fresh for the interview. This will reduce the smell.
Cleavage. Ensure to remain professional and if you have to consider the question “is this a bit too revealing?” the answer is yes! And guys, this means you too. Arriving with your shirt unbuttoned to reveal your hairy chest and gold medallion might be the go for you on a Friday night in the club, but your interviewer certainly wont be impressed. Always go for the safe, professional option and you will rarely go wrong.
Scruffiness. I am assuming that you know to dress one notch above the dress code in their office. If you don’t know what it is – find out. This is a perfectly normal question. Double check that you tie is straight, ensure that your shirt is ironed if you intend on taking off your jacket. Shoes are the first thing that people notice – wear the best pair possible.
Bad Breath. If you have breath issues, don’t assume that they will magically go unnoticed. Make sure that you don’t eat anything suspect before the interview and ensure that you have a mentos, breath strips or if you must, some minty fresh gum to chew before you go in, but don’t forget to throw it away before you get there!
Unkempt Hair. Guys, this is not a night at the pub – have a shave or ensure that any facial hair is well groomed. Girls, simple and business-like hairstyles are in order – don’t opt for anything that will distract from what you are saying.
Informal Language. You want to bond with the interviewer, but don’t treat him or her like a long lost mate. You should retain a good degree of formality in your speech, and while your body language should be warm and friendly, your speech should be as if you are talking to your parents-in-law for the first time.
Body Language. Its all fair and well to remain calm and relaxed in your interview but regardless of the tone it is important to be sitting upright and ensuring you are engaging at all times. Leaning back in your chair, folding your arms and relaxing, as you would on a comfy couch with your mates in the pub, will not cut it in this environment.
Phone Etiquette. Never answer the phone in an interview. Turn it off, don’t even look at it in reception. Focus on the interview, your surroundings and those people you meet. You should be fully present – even your interaction with the receptionist could be scrutinized for potential cultural fit.
Punctuality. Aim to arrive early. Not stupidly early as that makes you look like an amateur, but 10 minutes early should do it. Rushing for an interview is one of the main reasons for these faux pas to occur, so give yourself plenty of time for everything.
Eye Contact. Eye contact is important but make sure that it is natural. You don’t want to engage the interviewer in a staring contest, and if overdone, it can be fairly intimidating. If more than one interviewer is present, ensure you address both of them in your answers, it can be misinterpreted and lead to offense if forgotten.
Body Language. You want to come across as being warm and friendly – a nice person to have around the office. Behave like it at interview! Mirror the interviewer’s behaviour as much as is natural but be mindful not to get too relaxed and lean back in your chair, fold your arms or slouch, that wont make for a positive impression. Don’t get defensive, even when the questions get testing, and always retain a positive outlook.
You may say that there is nothing new here. You’d be correct. However, you would be amazed with the stories I hear from my clients as to why someone is not going to be hired. Far too often, part of the reason is linked to one of these things. They are so important. Get them right!