Has civility completely become a lost art? Think about it. The anonymity of social media tools on the internet enables people to say virtually anything they want, no matter how inappropriate, offensive, or socially unacceptable it might be. Words and conduct once considered to be profanity and obscenity are now commonplace on radio and television. There are sections in sports stadiums you can’t comfortably sit with either your children or your parents. Simply making a minor mistake behind the wheel can result in displays of fingers, a verbal stream of vitriol or even worse forms of road rage.
No matter how “normal” rudeness has become, however, there are still common interactions in which any lack of etiquette on your part can have marked, if not significant, adverse consequences. For example, consider how poorly your job search would go if you were impolite in your job interview.
There are any number of job interview etiquette mistakes guaranteed to make you look like an oaf. Here are some important things to remember if you have any interest of turning that first job interview into anything more:
- Dress for success. Yes, we know, that phrase has become a tired cliche. However, it’s as true today as it ever was. If you show up at an interview not dressed appropriately, you’ll almost assuredly not be asked back for another one. Not only that, don’t be surprised if this first one ends up being much shorter than you anticipated.
- It’s a matter of time. Do. Not. Be. Late. This really doesn’t need repeating, does it?
- “Keeping it real.” Many of us take pride in being ourselves and exhibiting our uniqueness, which is, in general, fine. While you shouldn’t attempt to convince the interviewer you are someone other than who you really are, you also shouldn’t use the first job interview to show off your individuality through body art. Especially if the job is “white collar”, you’ll be well served to cover up any tattoos and leave the body jewelry at home. Not making this simple concession to decorum sends a message of defiance (a condition medically defined as “don’t give a crapness”) that is sure to turn your interviewer off. Such an act of defiance is usually not an effective strategy for advancing your career.
- Know your audience. Research the organization. If you know someone who works there or has done so in the past, do some reconnaissance. Asking for general information that is readily available during the interview makes a statement about you and that statement is: Hello, I’m not prepared.
- 99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall… . Do not drink. If the job interview includes lunch or dinner, alcohol is a reeeeaaaaalllyy bad idea. Even if interviewer orders a bottle of wine for the table, limit yourself to one glass (assuming you drink at all). Consider the possibility that this might be a test.
- It’s all fun and games until someone loses an eye. Most people appreciate a healthy sense of humor. A healthy sense of humor. Don’t test the boundaries of what someone else might consider offensive. Also, joking around too much presumes a level of familiarity that probably doesn’t exist. And profanity? No. Not even if the interviewer uses it. Remember, it could be a test.
- Negotiate? Negative. The first interview should never be used as a negotiating session about salary, vacation, etc. And if you have to ask what the job pays, you’ve neglected # 4 above.
Ignoring etiquette during a job interview may make you look like a clown. Trust us, however: No one will be laughing.