Networking is a necessary approach to making connections and building relationships in your business or career. It can be a bit intimidating if you’ve never done it before. One of the keys to your success is to do some advanced preparation. Here are some tips I teach in my business etiquette courses that will help give you more confidence as you walk into that room to network.
Establish a Goal
Have a goal in mind as to what you want to achieve at the event.
Wear your name tag to a networking event. It will be much easier for people to remember your name, especially if they are a visual person. If you don’t have a nametag, many events provide name tags at the check in table. If you plan to be networking often, invest in a name tag.
Place your nametag on your right side. The reason for this is when you extend your right hand to greet someone their eyes will be drawn up to your nametag. Ideally, this will help them remember your name as you introduce yourself. Especially if it’s a noisy room.
Where to Begin
Walking up to a group of people you don’t know can be intimidating. As you look across the room observe the body language of people. Look at the way they are standing. Do they appear to be open to someone joining their group? Or are they standing with their bodies facing one another and give the appearance that they do not want someone joining their group. Instead of approaching the “closed” group to introduce yourself, look for a group that has their bodies positioned at a slight angle where they appear “open” to someone coming up and joining them.
Have some conversation starters in mind before you go to the event. I know this may sound silly, but this preparation will give you confidence. As you approach the group, have those conversation starters and questions ready to go. Here are some examples:
From there the conversation should start to flow. See this earlier post for more information about Conversation Skills to use at a networking event.
Always bring your business cards to a networking event. Carry them in a business card holder to prevent them from smudging or creasing. You can get reasonably priced holders on Amazon in a variety of colors. For an extra touch, get a holder that matches your brand colors.
Keep your business card holder in an easily accessible place so you don’t have to fumble to get your card out. Wait for someone to ask you for your card rather than walking around the room handing out your card to everyone you meet. Also, asking for someone’s card is a great way to end a conversation. See below for more tips on ending a conversation.
When handing someone your business card, have it face up with the words facing them. When someone gives you their card, look at it, ask any questions about it and then put it away carefully and treat it with respect. Customs around business cards vary from country to country so brush up on any protocol before traveling abroad.
Ending A Conversation
Ending a conversation at a networking event can be a little awkward at first. Again, this is where the preparation comes in. Have some go-to phrases to help you end the conversation. Remember, you, and the other person are there to network. You don’t want to monopolize someone’s time plus you want to meet the goal you established. Here are some examples of phrases for ending a conversation:
Develop your own phrases that make sense for you as well as the situation and have them at the back of your mind ready to go when needed.
The best way to get better and more comfortable at networking is to just do it!
It’s that time of year where engagements are in the air! Maybe it happened over the holidays or maybe with Valentine’s Day right around the corner it’s about to happen. Once you hear that “Yes!” and after much celebrating, it’s time to consider a few things. Here are my top etiquette tips to remember.
Sharing the News
Before you post that photo of you and the ring on social media, you’ll want to tell a few people about the engagement. Share the news with close family and friends before making a public announcement. This can be done in person or over the phone.
Traditionally, the gentleman would go to the father of the young lady to ask for his blessing and consent before proposing. Some may consider this obsolete, but I still think it’s a lovely gesture. We were so pleased when our son-in-law came to see my husband to ask for his permission to marry our daughter. We were also proud when both our sons went to see their future father-in-laws to request their daughter’s hand in marriage. It warmed my heart when I learned that my youngest son flew across the country to do this.
If the groom followed this tradition, then the parents already have an idea that it’s coming. You just want to make sure you tell them about the engagement as soon as you can so they don’t hear it from someone else. You’ll also want to tell any close family and friends before you shout it from the mountain tops.
Social Media Announcement
After informing close ones, it's common to announce your engagement on social media. Be mindful of your wording and consider including a photo of the two of you.
If you have received an engagement ring, it's customary to wear it on the ring finger of your left hand. When showing it to others, extend your left hand with the palm facing inward.
Holding an engagement party for the couple is a custom that some families follow. This is a great opportunity for both families to meet if they haven't already. If your family does not follow this practice that’s perfectly fine. Traditionally, the bride’s parents host the engagement party. If that is not possible, then another family member or friend may offer to host one. If the parents live in different parts of the country, then both sets of parents may opt to host a party locally.
Engagement Party Guests
The guests at an engagement party are generally family and close friends. Depending on your family, it can be a large or small affair. Make sure to invite people who you also plan to invite to the wedding. It could create some awkwardness or resentment if you invite someone to the engagement party and not to the wedding. The only time this would be acceptable is if it’s a very small wedding or a destination wedding.
Gifts to an Engagement Party?
Traditionally, gifts were not expected at an engagement party. If you don’t want to show up empty handed, a nice card or bottle of wine is a lovely gesture. In some cultures, and in some parts of the world, giving the engaged couple a gift is the norm. If some people bring gifts and others do not, put them aside and open them later. Make sure to send a thank you note for any gifts received.
Throughout all the planning and celebrating, keep in mind that every family and situation is different. There is no one-size-fits all guide for an engagement. Remember, these are general guidelines, and personal preferences may vary. The most important thing is to enjoy the process and celebrate this special time in your life.
Imagine you’re fresh out of college at your first job. Your one month in and your employer sends you halfway across the country to attend a conference. You’ll be going to meetings, networking and representing your company and you have no idea what you’re doing. On top of that, as you unpack your suitcase in the hotel room you realize you didn’t pack very well and your shirt is wrinkled. You find an iron in the closet and make an attempt to get the wrinkles out. All this is a bit nerve-wracking, right? I can help with that!
I’m teaching a Business Etiquette course at Fullerton College in the Spring 2024 semester. Every aspect of the scenario I described above, plus more, is covered in the class. When an employer hires a candidate, many times they’re focused on the technical skills needed for the job. Once hired they don’t have the time, resources or the knowledge to train them in soft skills needed. That’s where this course comes in. According to the U.S. Department of Labor employers view soft skills as even more important to work readiness.
The objectives of this course are to prepare students for success in the business workplace. They will learn how to prepare a professional resume, prepare for and execute a job interview, and outline a plan to execute a business event to showcase etiquette and protocol skills. Students will also polish their presentation skills and conduct interview prep.
Each module of the 16-week course will dive deep into different topics around business etiquette and projecting a professional image in the workplace. Many of the topics we will cover are rooted in the goal of having my students come away with skills they can apply in real-life scenarios. There will be hands-on training and role playing throughout the course.
We will cover introductions, handshakes, listening skills and the art of conversation. We will also discuss how to respond to awkward questions as well as those awkward moments we’ve all experienced. We'll even take mini field trips on campus to practice elevator etiquette and the proper door protocol in a business environment.
One class will be solely devoted to projecting a professional business image. Employers want staff who will represent them in a positive manner when they are out in the field. This module is designed to do just that! It may be a little unconventional for a college class, but the takeaway for the student’s will be invaluable. We will discuss dressing for success: business attire vs. casual attire. In addition, they will learn basic skills that will help them become a polished representative of their employer. Part of the class will focus on clothing maintenance: how to sew a button, how to iron a shirt and even how to tie a tie.
In other classes we will review conducting business with other cultures, netiquette and business travel (which will include how to pack to avoid wrinkled clothing). The final project of the class will be for students to plan and execute a business etiquette meal. Part of this project includes proper dining etiquette that they will need to demonstrate at the meal. All this will require teamwork and collaboration skills that are essential in many jobs.
I’m confident that the knowledge the students will learn in this course will set them apart from other job candidates as well as co-workers. The skills they acquire will prepare them from experiencing the situation I described at the beginning of this blog post. Plus, having this class listed on their resume will catch the eye of employers who want these soft skills in their employees. If you or someone you know is looking to up their game in the job market, please share this blog with them.
Here is the link to the course: https://bit.ly/3QWDmIm
Have you ever held a party or an event and been frustrated when people don’t RSVP? You clearly placed a deadline on the invitation when you needed their response by. Do they not know what RSVP means? I’ve come to realize that some people actually don’t know the meaning. RSVP stands for repondez s’il vous plait, which is French for “please respond.”
As we approach the holidays, I wanted to give an overview of RSVPs. This article covers why RSVPs are needed, what you should include in your RSVP request, how to respond as a guest and what to do if a guest has not given their RSVP by the deadline.
Why bother to RSVP?
Planning an event has a lot of moving parts. One big part of hosting is planning for the number of people who will be attending. If it’s in their home, the host will need to coordinate with the caterer or shop for the food. They also want to make sure there will be enough seating.
If the event is at a venue, the host will need to give the venue a headcount a couple of weeks before the event. This ensures that there will not only be enough food and seating but also enough staff scheduled to work the event.
What to include on your RSVP request
When sending out invitations, make sure to include an RSVP date and a deadline when you need their response. Also include how you want to receive the response: Mail, Phone Call, Text Message, Email?
For a more formal event such as a wedding, you can include an RSVP card with a stamped-addressed envelope to be sent back to you. Today, many couples utilize their wedding website to collect RSVPs. Include the website URL on the invitation if that is how you are collecting your guest responses.
For more casual events, many times we see the invitation sent via email or text message. Make sure to include a response deadline in those communications. If it’s a verbal invitation, you can say something like: “We’d love to have you over for a BBQ next weekend. Please let me know by next Monday if you and Richard can come.”
As the Guest
When you receive an invitation that includes an RSVP, please respond as soon as possible and definitely by the deadline given. Sometimes there are situations when you can’t respond right away. If the deadline is approaching and you haven’t given the host your response yet, let them know that you’re still trying to coordinate your schedule and you will let them know as soon as possible. If the deadline has arrived and you still don’t know if you will be able to attend, I suggest declining the invitation so you’re not leaving the host in limbo.
If you’ve responded Yes to an invitation and something comes up that requires you to change that to a No, let they host know right away. That “something” should not be a better offer.
When you receive an invitation, take note of who was actually invited. Is it just you, you and a plus-one, you and your family? Please do not ask to bring additional guests that were not included on the invitation. This includes asking if you can bring your children. If you're unsure who is invited, clarify with the host.
If you have not received an RSVP by the deadline, it’s perfectly acceptable to reach out to the guest to ask if they will be attending. They may not have received the invitation. A simple, “Hi Jeannine, I’m checking to see if you and Richard will be coming to the wedding?” Then wait for their response.
These tips will help you be a gracious host as well as the perfect guest as we go into the holiday party season!
I just finished watching the Netflix series “Suits” and I loved the scenes in the high-rise buildings. Especially when they were getting off the elevators. It seemed as if someone was always ready to greet the main character, Harvey Specter, as the elevator doors opened. No one was pushing their way on or off the elevator. They were all very civil as they entered and exited the elevator and I bet those high-powered attorneys were just as polite in the elevator. At least while the cameras were rolling.
That’s usually not what happens in the real world. Many times, we’re met with a throng of people trying to enter the elevator as we’re trying to exit. Or there’s someone talking loudly next to us on their cellphone. That’s where this blog post comes in. Here are some things to keep in mind the next time you press that elevator button.
Entering and Exiting an Elevator
When waiting for an elevator, stand a few feet back to allow people on the elevator to exit when it arrives. If you stand too close, there won’t be enough room for them to exit. Instead, stand to the side to allow those on board to exit before you enter the elevator.
Traditionally, a gentleman would enter the elevator first to make space for the lady and when they arrived at their floor, the lady would exit the elevator first. When I see someone still practice this tradition it makes my heart happy. With today’s modern manners, many choose not to follow this tradition and instead allow anyone to go first.
Be aware of others as they make their way on or off the elevator with you. Allow a person in a wheelchair, someone with a cane or walker, a pregnant woman or someone with a stroller to enter and exit first. Hold the elevator door and say: “After you!”
Elevator etiquette in a business situation is slightly different. In a business environment, the person with the higher ranking or a client would be the first to enter and exit the elevator. If there are several people in your party, hold the door for them as they enter and exit.
In the Elevator
Keep in mind that the idea around etiquette and manners is to be aware of how your actions affect others. In a confined space, such as an elevator, we need to be extra mindful of our behavior. Having a personal conversation in that space can make the people who are overhearing it feel uncomfortable.
Here are some things to keep in mind about cellphones in an elevator:
Make space for everyone as they enter the elevator. If it’s crowded, don’t squeeze on. Wait for the next one.
As you step into the elevator, push the button for your floor. If you’re in the elevator with others and standing next to the button panel, offer to push their button by asking “What floor?”
Many of these tips can also be applied to trains, buses and subways.
Whether you’re in a high-rise building or using public transportation, keep these tips in mind as you channel your inner Harvey Specter.
I was at Home Depot with my husband recently and I left him alone in the gardening department for 5 minutes so I could go look at a new pot for our garden. When I came back, he was having an in-depth conversation with his new best friend, some random person he had just met. My husband is a bit of an extrovert and loves to chat it up with people where ever he goes. I, on the other hand, am more reserved, maybe a bit of an introvert. Are you like this too? Reserved, maybe an introvert?
I know HOW to have conversations with people, it just doesn’t come as naturally to me as it does my husband. Over the years I’ve developed skills to help with the art of conversation and small talk and I’m going to share them with you.
By the end of this blog post you will have the tools to be a better conversationalist. This is important because it will help you be more confident and poised in social as well as business situations.
Many of us feel nervous or awkward walking up to someone to make an introduction. Here's a trick you can use to help you feel less self-conscious as you approach someone. Act as if you are the host with a focus on the other person’s comfort. This takes the focus off of you and your nerves.
How you introduce yourself will depend on the type of event or situation. Providing context in an introduction opens it up for a conversation. Here’s what I mean:
Forgot a name
I wish we all walked through life wearing name tags. It would make it so much easier to call someone by their name. Here are some ways to help remember the name of someone you have just met.
When we meet people in North America, we extend our right hand as a greeting. Keep in mind that not all cultures practice this tradition so be aware of that as you meet people. Also, Covid changed how we think about handshakes. Watch for these cues to see if they are comfortable shaking hands:
It’s good to have some conversation starters in mind before you go to an event. These will be slightly different for a business event vs. a social event. When you start with some basics the conversation will flow from there.
Ideas for a business event:
Follow Up Questions
There’s a saying that we have two ears and one mouth for a reason. The key to being a good conversationalist is being a good listener. Here are some phrases you can use that will make you come off as a great conversationalist with very little effort on your part. Remember, these only work if you’re actually listening. When someone is talking, you can respond with follow up questions like:
Some would say small talk is silly or unnecessary but it’s actually one of the building blocks to a more meaningful conversation. You’re not going to jump into a serious conversation as soon as you meet someone. Having some topics in mind will allow the conversation to flow easily.
One of the keys to small talk is to be informed about current events and things going on in your community. A few ideas to discuss are sports, the arts, a new restaurant in town or ask them if they've traveled recently. Also, people love to talk about themselves, so ask them questions.
Keep in mind that there are certain topics to avoid. Avoid talking about personal issues such as finances, health, family or personal relationships. Save those topics for close friends. Steer clear of discussing religion or politics. People typically hold strong positions on these topics and you’re not going to change their mind. Plus, you run the risk of offending them. Also, refrain from discussing money. This includes salaries as well as the cost of things. Not everyone is comfortable talking about this, so save those topics for your closest friends.
Ending A Conversation
There is a bit of an art to ending a conversation. To avoid monopolizing someone’s time at an event you should be mindful of the amount of time you are spending with them. If you’re not one to think on your feet, have phrases in the back of your mind ready to go. Here are some suggestions for ending a conversation:
As you can see, there's a bit of a theme here to be a good conversationalist: Preparation. By having simple topics and phrases in mind for each part of a conversation you will be more confident and poised even if you’re just at Home Depot chatting it up with a fellow shopper.
Etiquette plays a crucial role in creating a productive and respectful meeting environment. Here are some guidelines to follow for a successful meeting:
When asked to RSVP to a meeting, do it promptly. It will allow the organizer to know who will be attending. Plus, it will give them an opportunity to reschedule, if not enough people can attend.
Arrive on time. Being late disrupts the flow of the meeting and shows a lack of respect for others' time.
How long should you wait for someone who is late for a meeting?
It can vary based on the type of meeting, the person and your schedule. If it’s 10 minutes into the meeting time and they haven’t arrived, I suggest a call or text to them to confirm that the meeting is still on. For a business meeting, I would probably request to reschedule if they haven’t arrived after 15-20 minutes. I suggest confirming meetings the day before as a reminder for all involved.
Late for a meeting
If you’re running late for a meeting, let the person who you are scheduled to meet with know as soon as possible. If you will be more than 15 minutes late, ask them if they would prefer to reschedule the meeting.
Preparation for a meeting
Review the agenda and any relevant materials beforehand so you can actively contribute to the discussion.
If it’s appropriate, take notes during the meeting to capture key points, action items, and decisions. Bring something to take notes with. This can be an iPad, laptop or good old paper and pen. To give your notepad a polished and professional look carry it in a portfolio folder. Avoid taking notes on your phone because this can give the impression that you are scrolling through social media or checking emails.
Presenting at a meeting
Confirm how much time you will have for your report or presentation and that you are on the meeting agenda. Prepare well in advance, so you’re not scrambling to put it all together last minute.
If using electronics for your presentation (e.g., Power Point, videos, etc.), arrive early to the meeting to make sure everything is working properly. I suggest having a backup on a thumb drive or easily accessible in a cloud storage like Dropbox or Google Drive. This is insurance against any issues with the devices in the meeting space.
During a meeting
Minimize distractions by silencing your phone and keeping it out of sight. If you are expecting an important call that you must absolutely take, let the meeting organizer and attendees know you may need to step out during the meeting to take the call.
Stay on topic. Stick to the agenda items and relevant discussions. Avoid going off on tangents that waste time.
Be considerate of everyone in the meeting and avoid monopolizing the conversation. Allow everyone to have a chance to speak. Be respectful and professional if you don’t agree with someone. Avoid personal attacks and focus on the issues at hand.
Stick to the allotted time for each agenda item. If more time is needed, suggest adding it to a future meeting.
Avoid multitasking and focus on the meeting rather than working on unrelated tasks. This shows respect for the presenter and other attendees.
Eating during a meeting
Eat at meeting only if it is a meeting where food is being served. Do not bring food to a meeting unless you were told to. For example, “We’re having a brown bag lunch meeting next week.” This goes for Zoom meetings too. Please do not eat on camera during a Zoom meeting. If you must eat, turn your camera off. No one wants to watch you eat on screen.
Speaking of Zoom
I have one rule for Zoom meetings: Behave at a Zoom meeting the same way you would be behave if the meeting were held in-person.
Remember that the specific etiquette guidelines might vary based on the nature of the meeting, your organization's culture, and other factors. The goal is to be respectful, engaged, and considerate of others throughout the meeting process.
Many of us traveling this time of year have the good fortune to be an overnight guest in someone’s home. Here are some things to consider to ensure you get invited back.
First Things First
Wait to be invited. If you're traveling to an area where you have family or friends, don’t assume they are able or willing to host you as an overnight guest in their home. Also, if someone has a beach, lake or mountain home, don’t presume you can schedule a time slot that coincides with your vacation days. They are not running a hotel. Let them know you will be in the area and wait for them to offer. The exception would be if they have offered to host you when you are in town. In that case, go ahead and ask if it would be a good time to take them up on their offer.
Please do not ask to bring your pet. You want to avoid putting a gracious host in the uncomfortable position of having to tell you “No.” If you absolutely can’t travel without your furry friend, ask if they know a good pet boarding facility in the area. This will give them the opportunity to include your pet in the invitation to stay in their home. Keep in mind that asking may be appropriate depending on your relationship. It would be okay to ask about bringing your pet with a close family member or friend.
If they have pets, do not ask them to keep them in another room because you are allergic. Remember, this is their home and you're a guest. If you are highly allergic to their pet, you may want to consider staying elsewhere.
Communicate These Things Early
Discuss the length of your stay and make sure it fits into the host’s schedule. Don’t impose your vacation time on them. Agree on a definite start and end date and time for your stay so everyone is on the same page.
If you have food allergies or restrictions, let the host know in advance and offer to bring any special foods you will need. Please don’t expect the host to be able to accommodate your food restrictions at every meal. Instead, offer to prepare food that you can eat. A nice touch would be to make enough to share with others.
Follow These House Rules
If your host will be working during your stay, ask about their schedule. Avoid any activities that will keep them from that schedule. Be considerate of their morning and bedtime routines.
Keep your room or space tidy and pick up after yourself. The host won't want to walk by your room and see a disaster zone. Keeping a clean space shows respect for their home.
Keep the bathroom clean; especially if you are sharing it with them or other family members.
Clean up after yourself if you are preparing food in the kitchen.
Other Ways To Make A Good Impression
Bring a small hosting gift with you to give when you arrive or at the end of your stay. Another option is to send a gift after your visit. *See the list of ideas for hosting gifts at the end of this article.
Offer to buy groceries or chip in for them. You can also arrive with groceries to help defer the cost of any food you will be eating.
Offer to prepare or take them out for a meal. This is a nice gesture and would be a treat for any host. If you do prepare a meal, do all the clean-up so the host won't have to lift a finger.
At The End Of Your Stay
Ask if they would like you to change the sheets or strip the bed at the end of your stay. It’s always best to ask since every host has their own preference. If asked to strip the bed, leave the sheets folded at the foot of the bed and put the comforter or bedspread back in place, unless given different instructions.
Also, ask what to do with the used bathroom towels.
Lastly, send a handwritten thank you note when you get home, along with a small gift, if you did not give them one during your stay.
Keep these tips in mind and you should always be a welcomed overnight guest!
*Hosting gift ideas:
Airplane Etiquette is a hot-button issue right now. Traveling is not as glamorous or fun as it used to be. It’s become a stressful event that we do to get from one place to the other. Bringing kindness and consideration for others into the mix has the potential to make it more enjoyable for all. As we head into summer travels, here’s my take on what you should and should not do on an airplane.
Have your documents ready for the security screening
This should be obvious, but I’m always surprised when I see someone fumbling for their ID as they approach the security screening agent. Instead, get your ID ready to show as soon as you walk into the airport. Put it in an easy to reach pocket to be able to easily pull it out when you get to the front of the line.
Board the plane when your group is called
We were all taught in kindergarten to wait your turn. This is the grown-up version of that.
Don’t block the aisle as you get into your seat – put your items in overhead bin as quickly as possible so you don’t hold up the other travelers
This one is tricky because you want to make sure you have everything you need before you sit down. Try to pull out your reading materials and anything else you may need before you board the plane so you’re not holding up the line as you retrieve them from your carry-on. Another option is to place your items in the overhead bin and once everyone is settled, get the items you need at that time.
If asked to move your seat to allow families to sit together, go ahead and move unless you have a valid reason why you can’t or won’t.
I did a TikTok video on this and received a lot of backlash. If you’ve paid extra for your seat or selected a specific seat for comfort, legroom, whatever reason, no one would expect you to change seats. Plus, no one should ask unless you are exchanging like-for-like (i.e., aisle for aisle or window for window seat). If changing your seat is no big deal, just do it. I’ll bet you’ll make their day.
Reclining your seat
There’s a lot of chatter about this on social media. Should you recline your airline seat? My thought is, if the airline has seats that are reclinable, then they are meant to recline. Before you do, give the person sitting behind you a heads up. Recline your seat slowly, especially if they’re using their tray for food or beverage.
Armrests - Who gets them?
Evidently, there is this little-known rule: The person in the window seat has the view. The person in the aisle seat has the ability to come and go as they wish. The person in the middle should have the use of both arm rests as a consolation prize. This should be part of the announcements made before takeoff!
Don’t be a Chatty Cathy or Chatty Chad
Not everyone wants to have a conversation the whole flight and the rest of the plane doesn’t need to hear your life story. I was recently on a flight where to two men behind me starting chatting the moment they sat down. They did not stop THE WHOLE FLIGHT! Conversations like this disrupt people who may want to read or sleep. Please be courteous and keep your chatter to a minimum.
Use headphones when watching a movie
Most airlines require headphones when watching a movie and even make an announcement about it before takeoff. Bring your headphones or ask if the airline has a pair you can use.
Avoid bringing smelly food onto the plane
Strong smelling food in an enclosed space can be nauseating for some people.
When disembarking the plane, wait until it’s your turn
This is just like boarding the plane but in reverse. Wait your turn. If you are going to miss your connecting flight, notify the flight attendant and they may ask your fellow passengers to allow you to disembark first.
Be considerate to the flight attendant and follow any requests they make
They don’t make the rules but it is their job to enforce them. Be nice.
Be patient with other travelers and be prepared for minor inconveniences
Accept that part of traveling includes some inconveniences. When packing for your trip, remember to pack your patience too.
I believe we live in a world where kindness and consideration are valued and that’s what etiquette is all about. Even on an airplane.
Landing your ideal job does not begin and end at the job interview. What you do before and after can have as much impact as what you do and say during the interview. These tips will prepare and help you stand out from the other candidates during your job search.
These are the steps I teach in my business etiquette courses.
BEFORE THE INTERVIEW
Before heading into an interview, you need to do some preparation to ensure success.
Research the Company
Look at their website and review their Mission Statement, Leadership and Staff for topics you can discuss in the interview. Take note of any specific initiatives or projects highlighted on the website. Next, check out their social media for insight into their company culture. Ask yourself: Is this the type of company you want to work for?
Research the Position
What qualifications do you have that are relevant to the position? If you don’t have specific training in a certain area, look to see if it’s something you can improve on through classes or seminars. Have this information ready to share at the interview. Come up with a list of questions about the position.
Prepare for the Interview
Be prepared for common interview questions. Have your answers ready to respond to these types of questions.
Have some questions prepared to ask during the interview.
Check on the travel time to get to the interview so you aren’t late. If it’s an area you aren’t familiar with and it’s close enough, take a dry run of the travel route.
DURING THE INTERVIEW
Be on time. Yes, I know that sounds like a given but you would be surprised at the number of candidates who are late for interviews. I suggest arriving 10-15 minutes early to the location. This will allow time to walk in, use the restroom, if necessary, all without feeling rushed.
Bring extra copies of your resume and references even if you have already have a copy. Also, remember to bring a notebook and pen to take notes. Please do not take notes on your phone. It can give the appearance that you aren’t paying attention and instead are scrolling through social media.
Dress appropriately for the position you are interviewing for. Dress codes have evolved since the pandemic and in some job environments they have become more casual. If you’re unsure what would be appropriate attire, do a little research on the company website and social media accounts.
No matter what you wear make sure your clothes are clean and wrinkle free. Set out your clothes the night before. Inspect them for loose threads, stains or holes and either fix them or select something different to wear.
Have good posture, make eye contact and give a solid handshake. Not too tight and not too limp on the handshake.
Do not talk negatively about previous employers or co-workers.
Be prepared to share specific examples of work that you’ve done that are related to the position for which you are interviewing.
At the conclusion of the interview, ask if any additional interviews are required. It’s also perfectly acceptable to ask when to expect a decision.
AFTER THE JOB INTERVIEW
Send an email within 24 hours, thanking them for the opportunity to interview for the position. If they requested additional information during the interview, you can do so in the “thank you” email.
Some may say that a handwritten thank you note is obsolete but I believe it will set you apart from the other candidates. That is why I highly recommend that you send a handwritten note the next day, again thanking them for the opportunity and that you look forward to hearing their decision.
If you have not received a response within the time frame stated at the interview, a follow up phone call asking if a decision has been made is appropriate.
The bottom line is to do your research before the job interview and follow up afterwards. These two things will give you the confidence and set you apart from the other candidates.
Suzy Lins is a certified etiquette trainer located in Southern California. Educating on manners and etiquette to help people gain confidence to master business and social situations is the core of her teaching.