rude hireThere is one powerful lesson all job hunters should learn:  manners, attitude and behavior are all important components of making a good first impression! It doesn’t matter how qualified you are, if you’re a discourteous jerk, you’re probably not getting the job.  Call it culture fit, call it intuition, or just call it old-fashioned gut instinct, but candidates who can’t even deliver good behavior and a genuine personality for a few hours probably don’t stand a chance after a few months.

You will never see an actual rejection letter that states, “We didn’t hire you because you’re a rude jerk,” but you can be certain that many job candidates get tossed aside because they didn’t show common courtesy and appropriate respect.

As always, we’re here to help you out! Here’s seven tips on interview etiquette:

  1. Be courteous – everywhere – to everyone – all the time. We’ve all heard about the importance of treating everyone with respect, right down to the receptionist. I don’t know many people who are overtly rude to receptionists during a job interview, but this advice applies to more subtle scenarios as well. Smile to everyone, look like you’re happy to be there, and thank every single person who interacts with you.  It’s not uncommon for hiring managers to ask everyone about their opinion of you.
  2. Don’t waste their time. Recruiters, HR professionals and hiring managers are all very busy people, so don’t be the person who keeps applying for the same job over and over. And if you don’t hear back from them right away on the job, keep your follow-up to a minimum. Pestering a recruiter will quickly diminish your chances of getting an offer. Sometimes searches take longer than anticipated, and no news is exactly that – no news.
  3. Listen to the question. When you’re asked the question, “Tell me about yourself,” it isn’t a historical question, it’s a question that asks what kind of professional you are. Of course, you should be prepared to talk about all aspects of your professional life in an interview but that doesn’t mean you should give this long, all-encompassing narrative when they haven’t requested one. Most interview questions have a surface and sub-surface purpose. Make sure you’re answering both and giving the interviewers what they need to assess your ability to do the job in addition to simply answering the question.
  4. Listen to what they say. The kiss of death in any job interview is to ask for information you’ve already been given, i.e. most hiring managers describe the job at the beginning of the interview. It’s okay to ask for clarification but don’t ask in such a way that suggests you weren’t listening when they explained it to you earlier in the conversation.
  5. No phones allowed. Nothing conveys a sense of “you’re not worth paying attention to” than fidgeting with or answering your cell phone. Leave your phone at home, in the car or if you do bring it with you, turn it off completely – no vibrating allowed! Your interviewer expects and deserves your undivided attention. And as tempting as it might be, don’t get caught texting while you’re waiting for the next person to enter the room.
  6. Dress appropriately. Even though there are many settings where “business casual” is accepted and even expected, most professionals are expected to wear business attire to an interview. If you have any doubts, make an inquiry from the person who invited you to the interview. If they expect you to show up dressed one way, and you fail to do so, it could be seen as a sign of disrespect. And here’s an important piece of advice: Don’t ask them what you should wear to an interview. Ask them how MOST people dress for the interview.  This keeps the advice accurate and reliable.
  7. Appreciate and follow up. Thank you notes are still expected by email the same day as the interview, and definitely no later than the following day. If you made a promise to provide references or samples of your work, be prompt in providing them. Make sure to follow up and recognize the courtesies that have been extended to you.

Keep all these tips in mind and you will have a better chance at landing a job. Happy hunting!