Of course you’ve heard the expression, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” Etiquette is not just for your grandmother’s generation: your manners and people skills can make the difference between losing out or moving on to level 2 of the hiring process.

Here are 5 tips to help you move up:


Remember, you’re “on stage” the moment you walk into the building. When you arrive—no more than 10 minutes early—politely introduce yourself to the receptionist, and sit attentively in the waiting area. Don’t get out your Smartphone. Don’t read a magazine. Stand and shake hands with the person who comes to escort you to the interview.

When entering the interview room, show enthusiasm and energy without overdoing it. Smile and make eye contact as you shake hands with and introduce yourself to everyone in the room.

Always dress up and dress conservatively for a job interview. Under-dress and you may seem like you’re not taking the job seriously. Overdress and you may be seen as not “getting” the corporate culture of the company.

Many companies have a code, either written or unwritten, about things like shoe styles, jewelry, stockings, fingernails and tattoos/piercings. Until you know differently, assume your prospective employer requires that those things remain conservative.

Employers interpret your attitude and interest through your body language as well as your words.  Sit up straight and keep both feet on the floor. Rest your arms on the arms of your chair or on the table, not in your lap or under the table.

Maintain eye contact and an open posture. Don’t fidget, cross your legs, or fold your arms, and try not to use too many hand gestures.  Hold a pencil or a pen if that helps control your nervousness.

After you shake hands with all of your interviewers, wait until you’re told where to sit. If there is a table in front of you, don’t place personal items on it—no cell phones, handbags, briefcases, water bottles or coffee cups (the beverages should have been discarded before you came into the building!). All of these things should be placed under or beside your chair.

And turn off your cell phone. If it rings or beeps during an interview, some serious damage control will be required:  Don’t look at the display and certainly don’t answer it.  Reach down, hit the “off” button immediately and apologize to your interviewers.

When the interview is over, reiterate your interest in the position and thank the group for their time. Keep a smile on your face and your cell phone turned off until you leave the building.

Hand write and mail a personalized thank you note to each person on the interview panel within 48 hours of the interview. You may send your thank-you by e-mail if you think your note will take a long time to reach them, but a handwritten note shows true manners.


Solid etiquette and people skills are as important as a strong resume and work experience, and can give one candidate an edge over another. Want to know more? Contact WorkSource any time.

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