Etiquette for the Non-Traditional Interview

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Picture an interview. You’re in a room facing a recruiter, the recruiter asks you questions, you answer questions, you shake hands, you leave, and you wait for an email or phone call to see if your impression of the interview was the same as the recruiter’s. Well not all interviews are traditional. Some non-traditional interviews are over the phone, Skype, or other video outlets. Other non-traditional interviews are those accompanied by lunch or dinner. It might not even be called an interview. But here is an important thing to remember: Every interaction with a potential employer is an interview.

The Phone Interview

If possible use a landline. If you don’t have access to a landline, that’s okay, but scout out a quiet place with good cell phone reception in advance of your interview, and make sure your phone is fully charged. Don’t let yourself become disengaged with the conversation. Eliminate distractions and focus on listening to the questions and speaking loudly and clearly into the phone. If you are nervous, have your notes about the company in front of you as well as a copy of your resume so if you are asked a question about your resume you can follow along. It might also be helpful to have your computer open in case your interviewer asks you to email your resume. Don’t let the computer be a distraction either. Have the webpage opened to the company’s website or the job description. Also, confirm in advance that the interviewer has the correct phone number. If your interviewer’s call is more than 15 minutes late, go ahead and call or send a polite email asking if you need to reschedule.

The Video Interview

Wear the outfit you would wear if it were an in-person interview. Even if your interviewer can just see your face, you will still feel more confident and professional in business formal attire. And if you need to stand up for some reason, don’t be caught in a casual outfit. Even over video, your interviewer will be able to tell if you are serious about the job. Sit at a table and chair with a plain wall in the background. Don’t sit somewhere with distractions in the background, and don’t sit somewhere comfy where you will slouch. Sit up straight and look at the camera rather than the screen to give the appearance of eye contact. Check your internet connection, lighting, and microphone before the interview. Also, tilt the screen before the interview to center your face on the camera.

The Food Interview

If you get invited to chat with a recruiter over a meal, you should accept. But you should also practice eating etiquette now so that you’ll be presentable. Here is a past post about dining etiquette. Practice using good manners while having a meal with friends. Watch each other and see who has pleasant eating habits and whose might be less appealing. Model the pleasant habits. Also take caution to order neat foods. Spaghetti, soups, and foods that involve slurping aren’t a good idea. The recruiter will probably pay for the meal, but always offer and be prepared to pay. If the recruiter pays, be sure to say “Thank you.” Keep in mind that it might be called a casual chat, but you should treat it as an interview. Wear crisp, nice-looking clothing even if casual, and act professional.

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