By Colleen Harding
If you are currently interviewing for a position or getting ready to explore the options and see what is out there, here are some helpful suggestions from the protocol world.
Rarely do opportunities present themselves without preparation. The keys to protocol are: plan, prepare, and practice. These same skills can be used for interviewing. You can never be too prepared. These tips are designed to demonstrate your respect for the interviewer, their time, and their company.
- Be prompt — that means early. Show up at least 15 to 30 minutes before your scheduled interview time. This means leaving early to anticipate traffic, accidents, a spill of something in your car, a natural disaster, school busses, whatever. Plus you will not be frazzled when you arrive.
- Come prepared with plenty of copies of important materials — resumes, references, etc.
- Do not drink or eat anything in the car during your commute. If you must drink, it’s water only. If you spill coffee on your shirt or skirt and don’t have time to go back, you’re in trouble.
- Be properly dressed. Be conservative. This means a suit with a tie that is coordinated, socks, belt, shoes polished, heels that are not too high, etc. Everything must be pressed.
- Be properly groomed — nails trimmed, shaven, nails polished and neutral, no crazy nails or old polish, offensive perfumes or colognes.
- Remember to send the handwritten thank-you note. It is a great way to demonstrate that you want the job and are the perfect candidate. Remember we are looking to stand out among all the other applicants. A thank-you note shows appreciation. It should be sent within seven days of the interview.
- Come prepared with questions about the interviewer and their path to success with the company.
- Be very careful with questions about money on the first interview. It is a touchy topic and one that should be approached very carefully. If this is your dream job, be prepared to accept a little less money than expected. It will come later after you demonstrate your competency and excellence with the position.
- Don’t leave an interview without knowing the protocol for the interviewing process. Ask what the next step is and/or ask for the next meeting politely.
- Be cautious with your tone and body language. Many times it is not what you say, it’s how you say it. This includes your tone of voice and posture. It is OK to be confident, but make sure it does not come across as arrogant.
Interviewing is tricky. You must put your best self forward and give the right impression. You don’t get a lot of opportunities to change a poor first impression so plan, prepare, and practice.
Colleen Harding is a protocol coach and the founder of the Cleveland School of Etiquette and Corporate Protocol. She can be reached at (216) 970-5889 and firstname.lastname@example.org.