The purpose of etiquette is to even the playing field in any situation and to make all parties as comfortable as possible by knowing what to expect from a social perspective.
As you go into your interview, you enter an existing culture where there are norms, customs and expectations. To the degree that it is possible, demonstrate by your behavior that you fit into the culture seamlessly. Your knowledge and practice of etiquette is your key to the new culture.
Below are some main points:
• The Handshake—Although we have all been shaking hands practically since we started to walk, a few key elements have to be stressed:
o Make eye contact
o Shake web-to-web with some pressure
• Avoid the “dead fish” handshake which is only with the fingers with no pressure and a downward pull—unless you intend to insult the other person
o Extend your hand in a vertical manner. A downward palm is viewed as aggressive; an upward palm is viewed as passive
o Make sure your hands are warm, clean and dry before shaking
o Upon meeting 2-3 pumps are appropriate; if the meeting went well, 3-4 pumps are appropriate upon ending the interview
o Don’t touch the other person with your free hand; it is viewed as aggressive
• These days some interviews are conducted over a meal in a restaurant. The purpose of this technique is to observe how the interviewee would interact with clients in this less formal setting. Don’t be lulled into thinking that this is a casual interview. It is purely business.
If you are in this position, here are a few tips:
• Focus on the interview. The meal is only a test
• NEVER order or drink alcohol—even if the interviewers drink; remain sharp
• Don’t speak with your mouth full
• Don’t come very hungry
• The best foods to eat are fruit, yogurt and salads in small portions if appropriate; avoid crunchy foods
• Order foods that are neat and easy to manage—avoid spaghetti and other messy choices
• Order foods that show that you live a healthy lifestyle
• Although I said this under “attitude” it bears repeating: LEAVE YOUR CELL PHONE AT HOME or at least turn it off; do not take or make calls
• The Follow-up:
• In spite of the fact that this is the computer age, a typed and mailed letter of thanks will make you stand out in the field of competitors
• Thank your interviewer for their time and for any tips that they shared with you
• You can also ask whether it is alright for you to follow up with a phone call
Contact me with any questions or comments!