Lessons in etiquette

by Carolyn Davenport


Q) I just graduated college and am going on my first major corporate interview.  I need help acing it.

A) You want to make a good first impression, so your dress and conduct must be impeccable.  Conservative dark suits with polished shoes and good grooming are essential.  Carry a briefcase or nice folder to bring along several copies of your resume.

Resumes must be perfect with no typographical errors, smudges, tears or crimped corners.  Print them on good quality paper, one page long.  List your education, academic accomplishments and extra curricular activities, along with part-time jobs or internships.   Provide good references, asking for permission ahead of time from anyone whom you wish to act as a reference.

Research the company so you can converse intelligently with the interviewer.  It shows your interest.  Don’t be late!  Arrive five to ten minutes early out of respect, and to relax.  Call immediately if something unavoidable will delay or cause you to cancel.  Turn off your cell phone, or at best put it on vibrate.  If you’re expecting an important call, let your interviewer know up front. But, try to avoid taking any calls at all.

Be polite to everyone you meet at the new company.  Stand up when introduced, and use a firm handshake.  Sit comfortably, crossing your feet at the ankles and resting your arms on the chair arms.  Smile and make eye contact.  If you act self-confident, you will feel that way.  Listen more than you talk.  Ask questions when appropriate, and rehearse brief answers to stock questions.  Be honest.  With today’s background checks, dishonesty will be discovered.  If you use social media, clean up your information and photographs if needed.

Employers check web sites like Facebook to see the person they are considering hiring.  Put yourself in their shoes.  Would you fit the bill?

After the interview, confirm the next step, “When should I follow up with you?” Send a thank you letter immediately (on paper, not email),  and call when promised. If you follow these steps, and are competent in your field, you should get the job.  Good luck!

Carolyn Davenport enjoyed a 30-year corporate career working with the top echelon of major companies, providing management support along with meeting and event planning. She was also a member of the Miss America Pageant organization. Drawing on her experience and training, she has developed etiquette classes that will help people be their best in today’s society.