Manners are not only important at the dinner table (use your napkin, please), on the telephone (listen as well as speak), in a theater (refrain from talking during the performance), but also during a job interview. Yet many job seekers forget the importance of being polite. They jingle the change in their pocket, click their tongue, stare at the wall or at their lap, or cut in when the hiring manager is speaking.
Nerves can throw you off. Your heart races, your palms perspire, your mouth goes dry. You may even forget what you want to say. But none of these experiences are reasons to forget your manners. To give yourself the ‘edge’ when it comes to sitting across from a potential employer, review the following polite practices and then go over them with a spouse or friend before the in-person meeting.
Arrive ahead of time.
It may be fashionable to come late to a cocktail party but it’s bad manners to walk into an interview after the agreed-upon time. Always arrive at least ten minutes early so you can freshen up, catch your breath, sit quietly in the lobby reviewing your notes.
Maintain good eye contact.
You probably know what it’s like to speak with someone who is shifty-eyed. You might wonder what he has up his sleeve or what she is hiding. Looking a man or woman in the eye when speaking is not only polite, it’s good business practice. It assures the other person of your sincerity and genuine interest. And it will remind him or her to return the eye contact.
Focus your mind and take in what the interviewer is saying. If you miss a detail or don’t understand what is said, ask politely for it to be repeated. It may help to have a small notepad and pen in your hand. Jot down items that are of importance to you. You might even tell the interviewer ahead of time that you’ll be taking notes because you don’t want to miss anything. That too, is a sign of good manners. You’re letting the other person know that you’re serious about the job in question.
Say thank you.
At the close of the interview, be sure to shake hands and express in warm words how much you appreciate the time and the information you received. Remember, everyone likes to be acknowledged and thanked. Those who express gratitude will not be forgotten because it is so rare for people today to share genuine thanks. Then follow up with a thank you note in your handwriting. That will seal the deal and give you a good chance of winning a second interview—or even the job itself.