Interview etiquette: expert tips!

How would you rate your interview etiquette? This post contains must-read advice for anyone who has not been interviewed for some time, those who keep being interviewed but are struggling to find a job, and even those who are due to be interviewing someone soon!

Interview etiquette: the rules of engagement

There are a number of rules of thumb when it comes to your general interview approach. Our first source clearly covers the basics:

  • Doing your interview research – from the job spec, to the company website, its social feeds, and any recent news reports.
  • Preparing to ask your own questions.
  • Letting you know how early you should be.
  • Anticipating the ‘greatest weakness’ question (tip: prepare something other than ‘I’m a perfectionist’, which is the most common response).
  • And watching your body language.

As we say, these are the basics. They are expected of all interview candidates and they signal that you’re taking the process seriously.

You can also use these tips to go beyond the basics and set yourself apart. For instance, using your research findings to prepare a document that demonstrates how your experience and/or skill-set suits the company’s mission or needs.

With many candidates spending just 30 minutes on their interview research, your efforts can really pay off.

Interview etiquette: questions to avoid

We’ve mentioned being prepared to ask your own interview questions. Some questions can naturally arise throughout the conversation and it may feel appropriate to ask these at the time. However, you’ll also usually receive an opportunity to ask any outstanding questions towards the end of the interview.

It’s best to spend a bit of time brainstorming this aspect in advance. What do you really want to know about the company or role?

If your prospective salary is the first thing to come to mind, think again! This was one of the five worst questions to ask at interview.

Instead, it could be wiser to think along the lines of asking the interviewer about their own experiences working for the company, their primary goals, expectations or similar.

Where possible, you can use their answer as a final opportunity to ‘sell yourself’ by drawing a connection between their response and your suitability for the role.

Interview etiquette: what you really want to say

The Independent has shared a number of handy insights for anyone who really wants to brush up on their interview technique.

They called it ‘The Four Most Important Phrases to say in a job interview’. It’s a longer-form piece, which outlines…

  1. The best way to respond when asked ‘tell me more about yourself’.
  2. How to show the interviewer that you know the challenges they’re trying to address and how you can help resolve them.
  3. Clearly expressing your ‘value and relevance’, alongside your greatest accomplishments.
  4. Finding a professional way to ascertain your possible suitability for the role.

The Independent also has a second article (already linked above regarding why not to say you’re a perfectionist) highlighting some other interview etiquette tips. These include not making a dig about your current or previous boss, being honest if you’re interviewing elsewhere and not asking about your holiday entitlement.

Interview etiquette: as an interviewer

Prospective interviewers will also want to check their interview etiquette – and the law! – when considering their upcoming questions. It turns out that 85% of interviewers are regularly asking inappropriate, and off-limits, questions. These include asking about:

  • A candidate’s accent
  • Date of birth
  • Year of graduation
  • Marital or relationship status
  • Plans to start a family

For more interview guidance and support, please call your Recruitment Consultant on 01225 313130. Looking for CV advice? Download our free PDF



Are you married to your job?

Does it feel like you’re married to your work? If so, you’re among more than a ¼ of British employees who feel this way…

Research led by Perkbox (and shared by Recruiting Times) shows that:

  • 45% of people routinely work more than an hour beyond their standard day – with weekends included.
  • Almost ¼ have cancelled a personal commitment, such as a date or a party, due to their work.
  • 1 in 10 say that being married to their job has caused a relationship breakdown.
  • 30% of respondents feel “like they’re always at work, even when they’re at home”.

Technology once again bears some of the brunt of the blame. 70% of employees have received out-of-hours communications via email, text or phone call. 25% even think they send more messages to their colleagues or boss than they do their friends.

A number of health implications are additionally discussed. These findings support People Management’s report, which states that: ‘always on employees are more engaged but also more stressed.’

An overworking culture…

The Perkbox study only has 2,000 respondents. However, it closely reflects wider research. For instance, the TUC’s exploration of 5 million UK workers. This reveals that a total of £2 billion worth of unpaid overtime was undertaken in 2018.

While acknowledging that many people are prepared to work some overtime when needed, the TUC suggests that there are employers who are taking advantage of their teams. As a result, they’re calling for new rights that will make such employers more accountable.

Once again, the health impact of these working practices is discussed, alongside the reduced productivity that results from a culture of overwork.

Appearances may be deceptive!

Over on HR Magazine, a separate report explores the productivity issue in more detail. This post cites research from Maxis Global Benefits Network, which found that 79% of UK office professionals work an extra three days of overtime each month.

  • 79% of people also report to a ‘desk time’ focus, meaning that they’re ‘expected to be seen at their desks’ most of the time.
  • It may be thought this would boost productivity. Yet, conversely, many employees (almost 1/3) are spreading out their workloads to appear more productive than they truly are.

You won’t be surprised to hear that this article also finds a connection between long working hours and anxiety, stress and poor work-life balance.

So, is it time to divorce your job?!

If you’re no longer enjoying your work, or you feel it’s having a negative effect on your personal life, you may want to reconsider your options. Review the latest jobs and be sure to discuss your priorities with your recruitment consultant.