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Etiquette Checklist --What to do before your Interview

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Many of the following points will seem obvious. Nevertheless, they are presented here for two reasons; first to be thorough and second, because etiquette can be a funny thing. Sometimes you'll know 19 out of the 20 rules that govern a situation but break the one rule you don't know about. As a result, you may lose the job offer.

So while most of these rules are painfully obvious, be assured that supposedly sophisticated executives have broken every single one of them. Don't you be caught breaking even one!
  1. Don't insist on making your appointment at a time that your interviewer indicates may be inconvenient. Try to be as accommodating as possible.



  2. If you are offered reimbursement for travel, hotel and food, it's best to be frugal with your potential employer's money.

  3. If you're sick or otherwise under the weather, reschedule the interview for another time. Don't try to tough it out when you're not at your best.

  4. Dress conservatively. And remember that appropriate attire in one part of the country may seem quite out of step elsewhere. For example, cowboy boots worn with a suit may be fine in Arizona, but will raise eyebrows in Boston. A blazer with slacks may be okay in southern California, but never on Wall Street.

  5. Go light on jewelry, cologne, perfume, cosmetics.

  6. Never wear sunglasses.

  7. Never chew gum.

  8. If your glasses are broken, fix them before the interview.

  9. Don't take up the time of an important executive, asking him or her for instructions on how to find the building. Call the receptionist and find this information out from that person.

  10. Always confirm your appointment by calling the interviewer's secretary one day before your interview.

  11. Always be on time, at least five to ten minutes early so you can dash into the rest room for a final check. You may be brilliant at what you do, but if all your interviewer sees when he looks at your smile is a piece of spinach salad wallpapered to your front tooth, your prospects are dim.

  12. Always treat receptionists and secretaries with utmost respect. They are often asked their opinion of candidates, and even if not, they can sabotage you with a single cutting remark. They are also the gate-keepers who can make your life much easier in follow up appointments. If you go out of your way to be nice, it can pay big dividends. It's your best way to get strangers inside the company to put in a good word for you.

  13. If you come into the office wearing a coat, hat or other outdoor clothing, take them off in the reception area. If you carry them into the interview office, you'll be emphasizing your image as an outsider, a commercial visitor, and not one who already belongs in the company.

  14. Never invite your spouse or friend along. Your spouse may be very important in helping you make decisions. He or she may even have made a long-distance trip to scout your potential new location. But to have your spouse waiting in the reception area sends a signal that you may be too dependent on your spouse. Wrong signal.
Etiquette Checklist --At the Start of Your Interview (How to Handle the Most Important Three Minutes of Your Interview)

The most important three minutes in any interview are the first three minutes, because that's when your interviewer will form his or her first and lasting impression of you. Here's how to make the best impression possible:
  1. Begin and end every interview with a firm handshake and direct eye contact. (Yes, you should actually test your handshake on friends, who will tell you if it's too firm or too squishy. As with your shoeshine, a good number of people judge your character by your handshake and eye contact.)

  2. Be gracious and enthusiastic in your greeting, but not artificially so.

  3. Never address the interviewer by his or her first name, unless you are invited to do so. If he or she calls you by your first name, you may ask whether he minds if you do the same.

  4. If your interviewer is a female, wait until she offers her hand before you offer to shake hands.

  5. If your interviewer is female and you do not know her marital status, address her as "Ms."

  6. Don't be seated until the interviewer is seated or invites you to be seated.

  7. Try to choose a chair that's adjacent to the interviewer's desk and move it slightly so that you can face the interviewer. Try to avoid sitting in a chair that will put you at an uncomfortable disadvantage, such as sitting side-by-side with the interviewer, forcing you to look over your shoulder to make eye contact. Also, try to keep yourself out of the line of the sun coming through the interviewer's window so that your eyes won't seem squinty and shifty. If the sun is in your eyes, there's no harm in asking if the blinds can be adjusted.
  8. Sit with good posture, back straight, feet planted flatly on the floor.

  9. Remember that the most important three minutes of the interview are the first three minutes. How you look, smell, sit and comport yourself will play a major role in whether the interviewer likes you as a person, so try to relax and let your best self-shine through.

  10. Best way to break the ice in the initial few minutes of the interview: talk about something that the interviewer seems interested in. You may look around the interviewer's office and find some clue of common interest. As Paul Ivey says in his book, Successful Salesmanship, "there is one sure-fire way of arousing interest: find out what they are already interested in and then talk about it.

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