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Mind your P’s and Q’s: Why Interview Etiquette is still important?

This week, my lovely friend Amanda, from Bijou Recruitment is sharing some very important, but sometimes overlooked interview basics. Ignore these at your peril! img_3334

Call me old fashioned, but I think that interview etiquette is still alive and well.

Things like a firm handshake and effective eye contact – they work and make a good impression.

So, here are my 8 top tips (in no particular order) on creating the right impression for interview success.

  • Firm handshake

An absolute must! Practice how this feels – not too strong a grip, neither a limp lettuce leaf. Offer your right hand to the interviewer and shake his or hers firmly. It demonstrates not only good manners but confidence and control.

  • Eye contact

When you first meet your interviewer(s), try and remember to look them in the eye. It may feel disconcerting but it is key to show you are engaged and keen. If you are interviewed by 2 or 3 people, when you are speaking you should address all of them: look at each one and not at the table or your hands or out of the window.

  • Notebook

I’m firmly of the belief that a notebook is entirely acceptable in an interview. Not only can you use it to make a note of the questions you will doubtless have to ask, but it shows you are prepared.  Always ask at the beginning if your interviewer minds you taking a few notes – not too many as it will look like you aren’t listening but perhaps some key points or figures that they convey to you. It will convey how interested you are.

  • Nerves

We all feel nervous in an interview situation. Some nerves, to fire up the adrenaline are a good thing. I think it shows a degree of maturity and confidence to admit to being slightly nervous. It’s likely that to break the ice, an interviewer will ask how you are feeling for example. This gives you the perfect opportunity to say:

‘I’m quite nervous actually but I know I’ll be fine once we get talking’.

  • Questions

An interviewer and potential employer likes nothing more than a candidate who has done their homework. Sounds obvious but I’ve heard many a client complain about closing an interview by asking: ‘Do do you have any questions for me’? and the candidate looks blank and mutters, ‘Um, no not really’.

Wrong answer.

With the exposure all companies have online and through social media, there is no excuse for not doing your research.

Have at least 5 questions prepared: these could be around company culture for example or what promotion would look like in your role. Either way, it’s a good reason to open your notebook, as in #3 above.

  • Keeping you on your toes

Not only do you need to have questions prepared for the employer, but you obviously need to do your own preparation on interview technique.  Many an interviewer has been known to throw in what you think is a ‘trick’ question when you least expect it.

An example might be: ‘How do you fit a giraffe into a fridge?’

Or, ‘If you were a car, what model would you be?’  Yes, really.

What you need to know here is that there is no correct answer. This question is about how you respond in a pressured situation and how well you think on your feet. Like all good Scouts, Be Prepared!

  • Dress code

This is a tough one as contrary to popular belief, you CAN be overdressed for an interview. If in doubt, dress according to your sector – you probably wouldn’t wear a 3-piece suit or a smart dress to see a design agency; nor would you wear jeans and trainers to an interview in the professional services sector.

Use your nous. Or use your initiative and call the company you are going to see and ask what their general dress code is, for an indication. A recruiter who knows their job should be able to advise accordingly. The key point here is if in doubt, keep it simple.

  • Timekeeping

If like me, you’re a last minute Larry, getting anywhere on time can be a challenge. However, you need to arrive at least 10-15 minutes early for any interview. And follow these golden rules:

  1. Check the journey – know precisely where you are going
  2. Double check on the day itself that the trains/tubes are running or there are no major traffic delays if you’re driving
  3. Google Maps is not always your best friend – have a back up
  4. Make a note of the company phone number and ALWAYS call if you know you are going to be delayed

Bad timing gives the worst of impressions and is likely to cost you the job


Bijou Recruitment provides a totally bespoke service to premium brands and owner managed businesses where a personal service is key to success for clients and candidates alike.

With over 12 years’ experience in recruitment, Amanda Reuben set up Bijou a couple of years ago. She is an incisive, intuitive and highly professional individual who takes the time to fully understand the culture of a business as well as the key character traits of her candidates in order to place the right person in the right job.

If you have given up on ever finding a ‘decent recruiter’, you need to get in touch with Amanda.

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