Interview Etiquette: How to Show You’re the One for the Job From the Start

By Lexie Brada

Ah, interviews. Some of the most nerve-wracking events known to mankind. And for very good reason; many times cinching a job may lead to a position you’ve been dreaming about forever or get your foot in the door of the path you need to be on. There’s a lot riding on an interview, so if you’re feeling nervous about it, don’t worry…so is the rest of the world.

No one will blame you for having a few pre-interview jitters, but that doesn’t mean that you should sacrifice your politeness or good manners. In fact, you should be focusing on those even more than usual.

Here’s the thing: anyone can look fancy on paper, with a resume specifically tweaked to pique the interest of a hiring director, but first impressions really make a difference. You showing good interview etiquette could be the difference between the ‘yes’ pile and the ‘no’ pile.

If you were never taught how to go about showing good etiquette for an interview, don’t worry! We’ve got some of the best tips to help you put yourself above the rest of the pack.

Interview Etiquette

  • Be On Time

It’s a cliche, but the old adage that being on time means being late is true in this case. Showing up at the receptionist’s desk thirty seconds before the interview starts isn’t a good first impression. We hope that your employers are treating your time with respect, so do the same for them and show up fifteen minutes early. This will also give you a few minutes to calm your own nerves and remind yourself you got this!

  • Be Professional

Being professional can mean a lot of things, so let’s start with what to wear. Even if it’s a very casual setting, you should dress one step above what you think the expected attire is. If it’s a job you think you’ll need to wear ties at, wear a blazer. If it’s a job that you think people wear jeans at, wear a button-down or a blouse. It’s easier to make a great first impression than to have to be told you aren’t professional looking enough.

As for during the interview, remember to stay away from using slang words or profanity. Think before you talk to try to answer questions without interjections such as ‘like’ or ‘uhm’ every couple seconds, or muddying your answer. Try to keep your answers to the point and don’t ramble! Also, be sure to thank the interviewing team before and after!

  • Be Yourself

Though it can seem really tempting to lie on interview questions to make yourself look better, the truth always comes out somehow. Interviewers know that no one is perfect, so the best bet is to just be yourself!

  • Know Who is Interviewing You

To the best of your ability, know the interviewer’s name, its spelling, and pronunciation. These are all very basic things that, surprisingly, not everyone does. As a basic courtesy and for your knowledge, look these things up beforehand. This also includes knowing the company you’re interviewing for! If you’re unsure where to start or how to research, check out this blog here.

  • Know The Job

The hope is that if you applied to this position, you know what you’re applying for, right? If not, make a few quick notes to yourself! This could help keep different jobs that you’ve applied to straight, so you don’t make a fool by talking about a different job that you’re interested in. Being familiar with the job specifics can also help you. If you know you’re missing a requirement, showing that you acknowledge this or that you have a reason why you still think you’d be a good fit shows forethought and self-reflection.

  • Have Some Questions Prepared

You know when they ask if you have any other questions at the end? Don’t just say, “Nope! Thanks, I’m good!”. You should always have at least one question to ask. Use this as a time to interview them to see if you’d be a good match! You may only get to ask a few, so make them count!

Calendar Etiquette

  • Schedule In Advance

As soon as time slots are available to you, make sure to book a time that works for you! Asking for an interview day-of might not reflect well, and it’s unlikely they’d have space anyway. This gives you and the hiring team a chance to mutually prepare.

  • Be Aware of Other People’s Time

While we certainly hope that you’re not kept waiting forever, sometimes things run late. Sometimes you run late, I’m sure. Remember that humans aren’t machines, so delays might occur. We’d hope that a hiring team would think the same of you, right? However, if the interview is  really running over and it’s unavoidable, think of the team that is taking time out of their day to interview you. Try to make sure you have free time after the interview in case this happens, but don’t be afraid to politely excuse yourself if you really need to run to your next appointment.

In general, it’s just best to run on the assumption that both your and their time is important, and try to make sure your actions and attitude are reflecting that.

  • If Something Comes Up…

Life happens. We can’t all expect every single thing we commit to to happen with zero hitches. There are times when getting to an interview really would be impossible. The most important thing, though, to keep in good standing, is communication. If there is an issue early on, you should call or email as soon as you possibly can to see if you can reschedule. Don’t leave it until the last minute. If it’s a conflict that is happening the same day or same hour, don’t just ghost the company. A one-sentence email or a minute-long call is always better than nothing.

  • Follow Through on Your Commitments

The biggest part of being an adult is sometimes doing things that we didn’t want to do, or things we made commitments to that at the time sounded like a great idea. Maybe you got a bit overwhelmed with work or school, maybe you have a lot on your plate, or maybe you’re just not really feeling it. Hopefully most people would have sympathy for you. But, not showing up for planned interviews is really setting a bad precent to your ability to be responsible or give a company reassurance that you’d be a good worker for them. If you want to burn a bridge, not showing up for an interview with no reason ever given or a very bad one two minutes before it’s supposed to start will certainly do the trick. Even if you don’t feel like a company is right for you, you never know if they could help in the future or if one day they might be. It’s best to keep doors open to possibility.

  • Be Helpful, Collaborative, and Available

We’re not saying be able to take a call 24/7, but having a mountain of conflicts that make it seem like the next time you’d be able to interview is in six weeks is not the way to go either. You might have to skip some fun ‘me’ time to do an interview, or work around a schedule. Interviewing is a place of compromise and finding a time that works for both of you.

  • Put Interviews in your Personal Calendar

I know how it is; you have like five calendars for everything, right? And maybe that works really, really well for you, but I’ve also heard hundreds of stories of people making an interview, putting it on a work calendar or school calendar and then completely forgetting about it. The notifications aren’t going through to them and they realize when it’s far too late. You can separate your life and work when you have that job. Until then, to assure no mix-ups happen, put all your interviews on the calendar you look at every day.

Want loads more tips on how to ace your interviews, along with other great resources to help you find the perfect career? Download our PathMatch app today!