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Rules and Appearance of Business Etiquette

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To help enhance your chances of making a favorable impression, follow these basic rules.

  1. Arrive on time.

  2. Introduce yourself politely to the receptionist and state the first and last name of the individual whom you are to see.

  3. If the receptionist offers, you may accept coffee or tea, but be sure you won't have trouble juggling the cup and your resume materials when you have to shake hands with the interviewer. It might be best to politely pass on the offer.

  4. If you accept a soft drink from the receptionist or your interviewer, be sure to pour it into a cup rather than drinking from the can.

  5. Do not chew gum.

  6. Do not smoke. It is also best not to smoke just before an interview, as many people find the residual smell offensive.

  7. Introduce yourself using both your first and last name.

  8. Say "It's nice to meet you" in your initial greeting.

  9. Address the interviewer as Mr. or Ms………unless you are requested to do otherwise. Don't assume that if the interviewer calls you by your first name you are both on a first-name basis.

  10. Be willing to make a bit of small talk, possibly about the weather, the traffic on the way to the interview, or about the interviewer's good directions that got you there.

  11. After the interviewer has led you from the reception area to an office or conference room to talk further, do not take a seat until the interviewer motions you to a particular place.

  12. Sit straight and relatively still. Avoid distracting wiggling or jiggling of your hands or legs.

  13. Fold your hands in your lap comfortably or on top of your resume materials. Do not cross your arms over your chest (it will make you appear disagreeable) or spread them across the back of the chair or couch (it will make you appear too relaxed, lazy, or disinterested).

  14. Be attentive when the interviewer speaks. Avoid interrupting, even if the interviewer does most of the talking.

  15. Don't hesitate to ask for clarification if you don't understand something.

  16. Be positive and upbeat in your remarks.

  17. Avoid complaining about a previous job or employer. Whether or not your remarks are true, you won't appear professional if you harp on these subjects.

  18. Avoid criticizing, contradicting, or disagreeing with the interviewer.

  19. If you are offered a tour of the facility, the interviewer will indicate whether you are to walk ahead or to follow. Women should know that male interviewers may often encourage them to pass through doorways first.

  20. At the end of the meeting, thank the interviewer for his or her time and extend your hand for a strong parting handshake.
Dress to Impress

As a job hunter you need to keep in mind that most people quickly form a first and lasting impression of you. Keep your dress understated, conservative, and neat. If you're unsure about what to wear, a good rule of thumb is to dress slightly better than you would to report to the job every day. For example, at some work places blue jeans are perfectly acceptable garb; you could wear casual slacks to a job interview with such an organization.

How do you determine the dress code in your intended work place? Do Research. Ask around. If it's a public place, like a bank or restaurant, drop by and observe. If you're still unsure, a suit in a dark or neutral color is almost always a good choice. Wear something you've worn at least once before, just to be certain that you'll feel comfortable and confident. Of course, avoid anything that looks visibly worn, torn, or wrinkled.

Here are some other details that can leave an interviewer with a poor impression.

Women Should Avoid
  1. Hair that is too styled, over teased or over mousse. Keep hair pulled back and conservatively styled.

  2. Dangly earrings, or too many earrings, rings, necklaces, or bracelets.

  3. Too much make-up or perfume. Too little is always better than too much.

  4. Low-cut or unbuttoned blouses or any sign of an undergarment (straps or anything that would show through a sheer blouse or skirt). Avoid going braless.

  5. Patterned nylons. Plain sheer hose are best.

  6. Tight, short, or leather or suede skirts or tops.

  7. Lots of ruffles, bows, or fringe. Remember that you want to appear business like and professional.

  8. Very high heels, glittery, silver or gold shoes, or open-toe shoes.
Men Should Avoid
  1. Earrings, bracelets, pinkie rings, or similar jewelry.

  2. Too much aftershave or cologne.

  3. Unbuttoned shirts.

  4. Tee shirts or patterned tee shirts under dress shirts.

  5. White socks or socks that clash with slacks. Also avoid brown shoes with black slacks or vice versa.

  6. Sheer white slacks.

  7. Novelty ties or leather ties.

  8. Sneakers.
It's often helpful to try a "dress rehearsal" the evening before a job interview. First, you'll have an opportunity to find missing buttons or fallen hems while you can still remedy them. Second, you can ask the opinion of a good friend or relative. Finally, you'll have the opportunity to see your put-together, professional self and to gain confidence and poise for the interview.
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