Most advice counsels job seekers to take control of their interviews. Sadly, this can be an interview etiquette disaster.
Poor Interview Etiquette
It’s common for recruiters and hiring managers to run into applicants who have taken too much “advice” about being aggressive in their job searches.
Sadly, the applicants’ execution almost always lacks finesse. Rather than impressing the people involved in the selection process, they end up annoying them and not getting job offers.
It’s important to respect a company’s hiring processes. Doing so shows respect for the people involved in the process, and it shows the ability to work within processes. If you step on toes during the interview process, people will assume (rightly) that you will be an inconsiderate colleague.
Taking control of an interview might also convey contempt for the interviewer. Don’t expect the interviewer to like you if they think you don’t respect them. If the interviewer doesn’t like you, it will be hard to get to the next round of interviews.
Smart Interview Etiquette
Rather than disregarding the interview process, go with it and add to it. Answer the interviewer’s questions and add to them with information or questions of your own. You can respect the process and show leadership. They aren’t mutually exclusive actions.
At its best, an interview is a balanced exchange of information between two or more people. As in any productive conversation between people, no one should dominate.
As a candidate, make sure the interviewer learns everything they want to know about you. Cooperate with them. Help them. Otherwise, your chance of a next round goes to about zero.
If you think the interviewer missed some good points about you, or that you haven’t had an opportunity to show what you can offer, add on at a natural place to do so. That might be during the conversation or when the interviewer has finished with his/her questions.
In adding on, be sensitive to signals of interest or disinterest from the interviewer and adjust your behavior responsively.
I always like it when a candidate adds relevant information that I have missed. It shows self-confidence, and it’s helpful. I also like that they showed courtesy in letting me ask all of my questions.
Your Turn Will Come
As your interviews with a company continue, and you feel reasonably sure the company is interested in you, the dynamic will start a natural shift toward your concerns. That’s when you can start asking more questions about what matters to you. If they’re interested, they will want to have that exchange.
If You Really Want to Control Your Interview…
University of Missouri researchers have found that when you make a good first impression, interviewers are more likely to:
- Take a positive approach to your interview.
- Allocate a higher percentage of interview time to selling you on the job.
- Ask you fewer questions.
Thus, the better their first impression of you, the more likely it is that they will try to impress you in return. What’s your first impression? Almost always some combination of your resume, cover letter, and LinkedIn profile.
Control Your Interviews the Smart Way
Don’t ever underestimate the value of a cover letter, resume, and LinkedIn profile that differentiate you from the crowd.
As described above, they help you control your interviewers’ behavior without alienating them. Thus, when you make a good first impression, you gain a significant advantage in the selection process.
Updated March 2019
© 2010 – 2019, Donna Svei. All rights reserved.
Donna Svei, an executive resume writer and former C-level executive, retained search consultant, and CPA, writes all of AvidCareerist’s posts. She has written for and been quoted by leading business, general, and career media outlets, including Forbes, Mashable, Fast Company, Entrepreneur, Lifehacker, Ask.com, Social Media Today, IT World, SmartBrief, Payscale, Business News Daily, and the Muse. Let her background and experience inform your job search strategy and decision making.