As I sit here in my office preparing for a speaking engagement in San Diego next week I find myself distracted by the engineers welding on my heating system. 5 minutes they told me…3 1/2 hours ago. So often, what we’re told or expect is different than what we receive. That’s how I stumbled upon today’s blog topic, Interview Etiquette.
How often have you shown up to an interview only to have it be completely different than what you expected? To be fair, this happens on the other side of the table too. In fact, it happens more than you think. Earlier this week I was speaking about interview stories, similar to the ones in this blog post, while on the radio during a social media marathon discussing my book, “Career Sudoku”, and shared that these stories help job seekers improve their skills by learning from other’s mishaps. On with the learning…
Let’s use dating as an analogy. Consider the in-person interview a first-date, there’s the “are they the one” question lingering in both your minds. You both want this to be the right fit; the “ONE”. They’re tired of interviewing candidate upon candidate only to be disappointed and you’re tired of going on interview after interview only to have your hopes shot down.
Just like a first date though, there are some rules to the game, or etiquette standards, that you need to follow to give yourself a winning chance to landing the job.
As an aunt to four amazing nephews, I know how cute those little guys can be and just how manipulative they get when they want to go somewhere. This is not the time to give in. Interviews, and for that matter, dates, are not a place for children. Hire a babysitter and book a back-up sitter. (This is not based on a true story; it is a true story.)
Eat Before You LeaveDo some interviews happen over lunch or dinner? Yes. If that’s the case, you’ll be notified by the company in advance. Otherwise, eat in advance. Do not bring your lunch to an interview where the hiring manager is not eating and explain that you’re running behind, didn’t have time to eat and are “starving”. (This is also a true story).
The Power of Assistants
If you’ve ever been one, you already know this. If you haven’t and you treated one poorly, you know this as well. However, this is where you learn the less “do unto others as you would have done unto you”. One V.P., Human Resources told me that their Receptionist started using Instant Messaging to tell them which candidates were polite, professional and seemed put-together. She became so good at predicting which applicants to hire that the interview panelists now message her for inside information before they’ll even talk to the candidates.
When an interview is going well personal topics, such as kids or hobbies, may come up. While that’s a good sign and it’s nice to discuss these things, be careful to respect the boundaries and realize you’re still on a “first date”. Realize that you’ve only been with this person for an hour and avoid getting too personal by discussing religion, politics and the like.
Do you remember the last time you talked to someone with bad breath? Of course you do. Who wants to interview a victim of bad breath? Thankfully everyone from Listerine to Lifesavers have invented all sorts of tongue papers and mints to kill this for you. What you want to steer clear from is gum. Never chew gum in an interview. It can fly out of your mouth while answering a question (it’s happened) or you may need to spit it out during the interview (also a true story). Stick to the mints and both you, and the interviewer, will be happy.