Essential, hints, tips, advice and guidance on interview etiquette and the suitable manners for the occasion.

When you’re looking for a job, the little things really do matter. Never underestimate the power of thoughtfulness. A well written thank you note or a bit of pre-interview preparation can mean the difference between getting hired or not.


Here are some ways to make sure you have good job interview etiquette.


 Advise the receptionist of your arrival

If you find yourself in the reception area of your potential employer, good job interview etiquette is to inform the receptionist that you have arrived for your scheduled appointment with the person who asked you to come in.

The receptionist can then advise your contact and let them know that you are there.


 Practice your handshake, eye contact, and non-verbal communication

Be yourself. Greet the interviewer with a smile, maintain eye contact and offer a firm handshake. Nothing creates a poorer impression than a weak, couple-of-fingers handshake. Eye contact is crucial and conveys that you and your message are believable. Movements, gestures, posture and facial expressions are an important part of your overall performance. A sincere smile sends a warm, confident message.


 Dress accordingly

At an interview, proper etiquette dictates that your manner of dress should by and large fit in with the scene around you, but in a show of respect for the occasion, you should dress just a step above the norm of that environment. The reason is because inappropriate business attire — in either direction, up or down — creates an unacceptable distraction. When the focus should be on you and all your skills, your clothes shouldn’t be stealing the show.


 Be on time

Give yourself more than enough time so that you can arrive early. Even try to the route beforehand and find any local coffee shops in which you may be able to wait if necessary. However don’t allow so much time that you start to worry.

It will then be possible to arrive at the reception point a just few minutes early and be in good time for the interview.

Any last minute rush will make you agitated and stressed and you may not be able to present yourself as well in the interview.


 Don’t Waste Anyone’s Time

Make sure you qualify and your skills are compatible with the job post. Be prepared. Arrive bearing the appropriate materials, including your CV, samples and/or a portfolio. Think about what you want to say so that you aren’t rambling. Make sure you’ve done your research about the company so that you can give relevant answers and ask relevant questions.

Be friendly and sociable, but make sure to let the employer take the lead. Don’t interrupt the interviewer and listen carefully to what they’re saying. Make sure that you’re actually answering the questions not the ones you wish they were.


 Facial Expressions and Body Language

Entire books have been written on this topic, so we just want to touch on it lightly here. Just make sure your words match up with your body language.

Did you know that if you constantly tap your pen, fidget with your jewelry at the end of sentences or stroke your hair every few minutes that you are radiating how uncomfortable you are? The employer is left to interpret whether you are uncomfortable with your skills and abilities or the setting?


  • Allow a positive attitude to be reflected in your answers.
  • Prepare examples and stories to showcase your strengths.
  • Answer honestly if confronted with past weaknesses in your background, but turn it to your advantage. Never badmouth a past employer or company.
  • Breathe deeply and stay calm. Employers are discovering whether or not you have the competence, composure and confidence to succeed on the job.
  • Realize that the interviewer is probably nervous also. If they do not find the ideal candidate to fill the position, it will reflect poorly on them.


  Shut your mobile OFF before you enter the prospective employer’s office

Bringing a mobile into an interview is like carrying a loaded weapon. If it goes off, you might kill any chance you had at landing that job.


 Be prepared to answer standard questions

Read > Some of the most common interview questions for PAs.

  1. “Why did you leave your last job?” – Avoid negative answers.


 Sell Yourself

In order to sound truthful about your achievements be prepared to use examples and specifics. Detail the reasoning for decisions you made and the keys that enable you to be successful in a particular area. By giving the underlying reasons for your achievements, the interviewers will be able to see that you are not lying and this will add credibility to your application.


 Use people’s name

People love hearing their names so be sure to remember and use them—sparingly. If you call someone by the wrong name, apologize, and be sure to make a special point of repeating the person’s correct name a few times. If two people are interviewing you at the same time, be sure to spend equal amounts of time looking at them and conversing with them. It doesn’t matter which one of them is more important. Be polite to both.



Post interview tip


 Thank you note

Most job applicants don’t realize how far a thank you note can go. The note should thank the hiring manager and anyone else involved in the interview for taking time out of their day to meet you. It also gives you another chance to express your desire in the position and why you would be a great fit for the job.


Use what you know about proper job interview etiquette to get ahead in the job hunt. With the right attitude, great manners, and a knack for maintaining professionalism, you’ll impress interviewers with your drive to succeed. Do you have any more interview etiquette tips to share with us? 


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Myriam Balerio is the founder and writer of PA Privé. After kick starting her career as a PA and finding success as an assistant, Myriam later trained in digital and online marketing and has since combined the two disciplines in creating PA Privé, the platform through which she provides sage advice for those in the assistant profession and a network for like-mined PAs and EAs to connect. Born in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Myriam has lived in London for over 10 years and currently lives in London with her husband and French bulldog.


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