Last updated on December 6th, 2019 at 03:35 pm

Handshake also belongs to job interview etiquette, illustation of a handshake of man and womanJob interview etiquette is a set of rules one should accept and follow in every single job interview. It applies to both job applicants and the interviewers.

We will have a look at the basic etiquette in this article. If you apply for a job in a specific region, such as Japan, Saudi Arabia, or China, you should do additional research, because what is generally accepted in Western world can be considered highly inappropriate in one of these countries, and contrariwise.


Rules of interview etiquette

Come on time.

If you think that arriving five minutes late for your interview is okay, you will have to forget the thought altogether. Interviewers have a schedule for the entire day. Once you are late, you interfere with their plans.

They either have to sacrifice a part of your interview (skipping some questions, which is something you don’t want to happen), or other job applicant will pay the price for your late arrival. Neither of that is good for them…


Turn your cell phones off.

The interviewers look surprised by the behavior of the job candidate. To answer a call, or just to let your phone vibrate in an interview, shows how little the meeting means for you.

What is more, the interviewers can take it personally, thinking that you do not respect their work and the time they reserved for the meeting with you.

Note: Interviewers in small companies, or in agencies, can have their phone on. This is because they may get a call from one of the applicants who is scheduled to interview for a job after you. This should not happen in a big company though. A secretary should take care of such a call.


Listen to the interviewers.

Many applicants think about something else while they interview for a job, or they answer a different question than the one we asked them. Many people will interrupt the interviewers in the middle of a sentence, and some job applicants actually try to lead the interview. None of that should happen to you, at least if you really want to get a job.

A good employee is a good listener–and it doesn’t matter whether we speak about interview for a leadership role, or one for blue collar jobs. Focus on your interview, and on every word they say. Not only does this belong to the basic interview etiquette–it is the only way how you can actually have a real chance of getting hired.

Special Tip: Download an exclusive summary of the article in a simple, one-page long PDF, and read it before the start of your interview, to ensure you’d avoid any fatal mistakes:

exclusive summary, PDF


No yawning please.

A male interviewer went over the line, asking personal questions. A job seeker protect herslef from further attacksIt doesn’t matter if you spent all night in the club, or working on your interview preparation. Yawning is considered a sign of tiredness, and it suggests a little interest. If you feel like yawning, go and grab a coffee or energy drink before the start of your interview.

And if you yawn anyway, if you can not suppress the urge, apologize for doing that, and explain that you spent your night preparing for one of the most important meetings of your life.


Keep some distance, avoid personal questions.

Unless you are a communication expert, and are  absolutely sure that it is appropriate to ask a personal question (question about family, hobbies, etc), you should avoid such questions altogether. This rule applies to both interviewers and job candidates.

What is more, you should know that some questions can be considered illegal by law (check illegal interview questions for more info). Asking job candidates about their race, religion, or marital status, you risk a legal action. In 99 cases of 100 nobody will sue you, but still–it is not good for a reputation of your company, and for your personal reputation.


Shave and take a shower.

The interview is an important meeting (at least it should be important for you, and if it is not, you rather stay at home).

Try to look good, take a shower, shave. Do not overdo it with perfume or other cosmetics. Good choice of clothes won’t win you a job contract, but you should still try your best to look good and professional.


Both job applicant and HR manager are smiling, keeping the rules of interview etiquette.Let the employer to lead the meeting.

You are in the room primarily to listen, and to answer the questions of the interviewers. While it is good and even advisable to ask a question from time to time, it is not appropriate to ask a huge number of questions, at any point of the interview.

Listen carefully, talk to the point, and wait for your chance to ask a good question.


Avoid illegal, racist, and other inappropriate questions.

Keep it professional. Whether you are an interviewer, or a job candidate, you should ask only about things that really matter for the job. We live in a world of equal opportunities, and if you discriminate someone with a question, it can easily backfire against you.


Job interview is not a date.

At the end of the day, people who meet in the interviews are only people. It is perfectly fine to wear something you look attractive in, but you should never suggest a meeting outside of the interviews, and if another party suggest such a meeting, you should politely refuse their proposal.

It would be naive to think that interviewers and job candidates never date each other. It does happen–just like it happens in any other situation when two people meet.

But you should wait until the end of the interviews. If you really like the person, you can give them a call and ask them for a date–but do it only after you’ve heard a final verdict on your job application.


Continue your preparation for the big day:

Matthew Chulaw
Latest posts by Matthew Chulaw (see all)