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Understanding Interview Etiquette

a man and a woman sitting at a desk smiling

In the current market it is the subtle differences that are making the biggest impact. The little intricacies that can transform you from being just another candidate to the standout choice during an interview. While we've delved into various topics extensively, one area we've yet to explore is interview etiquette.


With the help of two talented talent acquisition experts: Adam Schilling from Flighright and Youssef Lahbabi from Codility we've dissected the essence of interview etiquette. We've discussed why it holds such importance, and they've shared advice on what you should and shouldn't do if you aspire to succeed in interviews.


This article has the potential to significantly enhance your interview processes when put into practice. The journey into the world of interview etiquette begins with a deep understanding of what it truly entails.


What do we mean by Interview Etiquette?

Let's begin by examining the concept of work etiquette: it's defined as the established set of polite behaviours within a society, profession, or specific group. Now, consider this in the context of an interview. It encompasses your conduct, language, and the care you take to thoroughly prepare and devote your full attention to each position you apply for. It's about fostering equality between the company and the candidate, eliminating power dynamics.


Youssef added that interview etiquette revolves around the implied, unspoken rules that both parties should adhere to during an interview. What's intriguing is that these norms can vary from one industry to another and from country to country.


Understanding interview etiquette and honing your ability to adapt to different situations is crucial in any job search process. As Adam pointed out, securing any job involves making a connection during the interview process, some individuals naturally excel at showcasing their skills but by investing time in improving your awareness of interview etiquette it will only lead to a win-win situation.


Advice from the professionals

Interview etiquette, while seemingly self-explanatory in its definition, remains a skill that eludes some individuals in practice. Consequently, we sought insights from our guests, who shared valuable advice based on their years of experience and observation.


Core Alignment

Adam emphasised the importance of authenticity for job seekers. He stressed the need to be truthful about one's skills, expectations, and desires when pursuing a new opportunity. Holding back information from the outset can lead to wasted time for both you and the team, especially when specific criteria are essential for the team to know.


Expanding on this, applicants are advised to approach each application with intention. Paying close attention to thoroughly understanding the job descriptions provided by hiring managers and recruiters. It is crucial to assess whether the role aligns with your skill set, and then, in a more focused manner, consider how to effectively highlight this alignment in your resume and during the interview process.


Mentally Prepared

Mental preparation can manifest in various ways from our experience. Firstly, if you've recently experienced a layoff, it's essential to assess whether you're emotionally ready to present your full self to the interviewer. Are you at a point where you can confidently reintroduce your skills to the job market and face evaluation effectively?


Secondly, if you're grappling with application fatigue, where you've been applying to numerous positions without success and it's affecting your confidence, it's crucial to take note. These challenges may manifest in your demeanour during calls or meetings. Strive to present your best self while avoiding pushing yourself too hard, as this approach will ultimately yield better results in the long term.



During the interview process, there's a wealth of information to convey and cover within a relatively short time frame. We recommend that job seekers can make a significant impact by asking thorough questions, an insight echoed by previous guests, underscoring its importance. Remember, an interview is a two-way exchange between you and the interviewer. Consequently, it's crucial to research your interview partner, prepare questions for them, and uncover insights that might not naturally surface. This not only distinguishes you as an applicant but also simplifies the decision-making process later on.


Effective verbal and non-verbal communications are also vital for establishing rapport and demonstrating respect. Being fully present, as Adam pointed out, means giving the interviewer your undivided attention, actively listening, and responding thoughtfully. It's important to let the other person speak before leaping to respond, a practice especially critical during online meetings.


Timing is key

Youssef explained the significance of effective time management when responding to questions. Prolonging your response on a question that doesn't directly answer the inquiry can potentially diminish your performance. Therefore, it's advisable to pause briefly before hastily providing an answer. Consider the value you can contribute and frame your response in a manner that not only conveys this value but also allows the interviewer the opportunity to ask follow-up questions if desired.


This principle can also be applied to your introduction. Keep your introduction concise, focused, and professional. By doing so, you enable the interviewer to lead the conversation and delve into areas within your introduction that are pertinent to the discussion.


Culture Differences

Expanding on Youssef's insights regarding the essence of interview etiquette, he made an intriguing observation and pointed out that the concept of etiquette during interviews can vary depending on the industry or region in which you are interviewing.


For instance, he provided an example that in the United States, many job seekers send a brief summary and a thank-you note after the interview, a practice not commonly observed in Europe. These seemingly minor differences, unbeknownst to you, could either hinder your progress or offer unique opportunities to distinguish yourself.


If you find yourself uncertain about the subtle etiquettes relevant to a specific local region or industry, Youssef recommends reaching out to individuals with experience in that area to inquire about best practices, things to avoid, and the possibility of seeking a coach for guidance.


Practice makes perfect

Both Adam and Youssef believe that interviewing is undeniably a skill. Is it the most equitable means to secure a job? In reality, no. Despite significant efforts to minimise bias in the process, and although companies have made notable progress in recent years, the truth remains that being an effective communicator capable of capturing the audience's attention enhances your prospects of landing the position.


Hence, practice becomes a valuable avenue for development in this regard. When considering interview etiquette, the goal is to approach interviews in your natural style, seek as much feedback as possible, adapt your techniques, practice with a mentor, coach, friend, or even in front of a mirror, and then repeat this cycle with live interviews and subsequent feedback.


Since interviewing is a learnable skill, consistent improvements will invariably lead to better long-term outcomes for you.


Avoid today

Shifting our attention from the realms of advice meant for improvement, we also sought to engage our guests in discussions about specific practices that they advise job seekers to completely abandon.


Adam (image)

Eliminate any trace of dishonesty from your application, remain authentic to your true self, and refrain from making unfounded assumptions about the company and the interviewer.


Youssef (image)

Instead of extending your responses and potentially wasting time, provide brief yet highly impactful answers. When uncertain about how much to share, offer a teaser regarding your skills, which may prompt the interviewer to delve deeper into areas of specific interest.


We often assume that we are treating others with respect and employing the right etiquette, but the reality may sometimes differ. Discovering this disparity can be a challenging experience.

This article is not intended to diminish anyone; rather, it is designed to help you present yourself in the most favourable light. The insights shared here are not solely my perspective, but they come from seasoned professionals who support your journey within the companies you aspire to join.

To excel in interview etiquette, it's essential to continually adapt your approach, enhance your interview techniques, and reflect on feedback. Feel free to revisit this article whenever you sense that your performance may be veering off course.

Thank you to all our guests, their knowledge shared and if you believe there is something within these words for someone in your network, we would appreciate if you could share it along so we can all collectively bring simplicity to the chaos of recruitment.


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