Interview Etiquette for the New Graduate

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It’s May—typically graduation month. Are you one of those who will be donning a cap and gown and walking across the stage to receive your hard-earned diploma or do you know someone who is?  Given that the next step after graduating is finding a job, I have some business interview etiquette tips for the new grad facing those challenging job interviews.

Current job seekers have lots of competition. There are literally hundreds of people vying for the same position. While most people think that their education, their skills and expertise will land them the job, studies show that is not necessarily so.  Those factors are important, but another that is often overlooked is proper interview etiquette.

The idea might seem outdated, but adhering to certain standards still plays a significant role in business.  Over and over we hear that what sets most interviewees apart from their competition are their personal skills.  A knowledge of interview etiquette and good manners are the keys to standing out from the crowd.

People do business with people they like and interviewers hire candidates they like, If you or that new graduate you know want to be the candidate of choice, I have some suggestions.

Start by arriving on time. That means showing up 5 to 10 minutes prior to your appointment. If you arrive earlier than that, wait out of sight. Arriving too early can be an intrusion.  To make sure you are on time, find the location ahead of time. Make sure you know where you are going, how to get there and how long it will take.  The interviewer does not want to hear you apologize because you got stuck in traffic or worse yet, got lost.

Leave your cell phone in the car. I realize that for some people the thought of being separated from their cell phone for even a minute is terrifying.  Trust me, you can do it. It is the only way to insure that your phone will not ring during the interview.  I know. You think you will simply turn it off, but how many times has a phone rung when it was supposed to be turned off or on silent ringer?  We all know the horror stories and the interview is no time to be the main character in yet another cell phone tale.

Practice your business handshake.  That would be the good firm one that impresses the interviewer.  If you aren’t sure that yours is impressive, try it out on family and friends. Keep in mind that when you shake hands, you want to make contact web-to-web with the other person’s hand, step in, smile, make eye contact, call the person by name, give two quick pumps, let go and step back.

Dress professionally and appropriately.  A simple rule to follow is to dress up a notch or two from what you normally wear, assuming that your usual attire is not blue jeans and a tee shirt.  Take the time to research the dress code for the organization where you have the interview and again, dress up one notch.  Pay attention to your grooming, and always, always, always make sure your shoes are in mint condition.

Say “thank you” three times.  Thank the interviewer in person at the conclusion of your meeting; follow up by email; and then send a handwritten note. Interviewers get hundreds of email on a daily basis, but they rarely receive a personal note.  You will definitely stand out from the crowd when you take the time to write your thank you.

Following the basic rules of business etiquette can make the difference in whether you get the job or not. Keep in mind that good manners are noticed more by their absence.

My book, Manners That Sell – Adding the Polish That Builds Profits, covers all you need to know about business etiquette.  It’s the perfect gift for anyone setting out on the job search trail. Perhaps you would like to give one to yourself.

professional speaker

Photo from Savannah magazine

Hire Lydia to work with your staff to improve customer service and employee relations through the use of those priceless and often over-looked soft skills called manners. Lydia is the “unstuffy” business etiquette expert who helps individuals and organizations add the polish that builds profits. We’re talking about your bottom line here.

Since 1996, countless people have benefited from her wisdom through keynotes, seminars and conference breakout sessions.  Her Southern charm and sense of humor have made her a sought-after speaker and consultant.

Based in Savannah, Georgia, Lydia is available for national, regional and local speaking and training engagements. She has suitcase; will travel.

Contact her via email at lydia@lydiaramsey.com or call 912-598-9812. Sign up for her free monthly newsletter and visit her website, lydiaramsey.com.

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