Observing Interview Etiquette

Observing a few rules of the road during and after interviews can help you land a great job. But rather than list a bunch of rules, I have incorporated them into the following Q&A’s, which are based on actual questions from veterans.

**I am a former captain in the United States Air Force, and I have talked with several recruiters who specialize in recruiting junior military officers (JMO’s). Most of them have asked me, “Who else have you been interviewing with?” They say they have to know this so that they don’t put me in front of those same companies. Am I hurting my chances if I don’t tell him?**

No, not at all. In fact, you may hurt yourself by boasting about the top-notch companies that have been interviewing you. Why? Because within minutes of talking with you, the recruiter may contact those companies in hope of presenting his or her own applicants.

So what should you tell the recruiter? Say that you prefer to keep this information to yourself. Tell the recruiter that, if he/she presents an opportunity with a company that has been talking with you, you will decline that opportunity to avoid any conflict. If you are a top performer, with marketable skills and flexibility, a good JMO recruiter will work with you.

One more point: If the recruiter asks you “What kinds of companies have you been interviewing with?” go ahead and answer. A good recruiter will use your answer to help determine your work interests, whether your expectations are realistic, how hard you are working to find a job, etc.

**What’s the best way to close an interview, either on the phone or in a face-to-face meeting?**

You can never go wrong with, “So, what’s the next step?” That will give you a clear idea where you are in the hiring process. You may get a non-committal answer, or the interviewer may just say, “Well, we might like to make you an offer.” Whatever answer you get, follow up with a statement such as “I hope you are considering me as one of your strongest candidates. I am very interested in your opportunity.” If the interviewer definitely wants to make an offer, a good response would be, “Great, when would you like me to start?”

**I am a woman, and I have been invited to go to a manufacturing plant for a tour and interview. What should I wear?**

I will give you almost exactly the same advice I would give a man. First, always check with the interviewer for company policy. Second, while it is always wise to dress up for the occasion, in a manufacturing operation, you should not wear loose items such as a scarf that could accidentally get caught in machinery. You may be asked to remove such items. And finally, some manufacturing facilities are not the cleanest environments, so favor dark clothing over light.

**Should I bring in all my performance evaluations to a face-to-face interview?**

No, the last thing the interviewer wants is more paperwork; and you are the presentation, not your paperwork. You can mention that the paperwork is available, and that you would be pleased to send it as soon as you get home.

Furthermore, you should not lug a briefcase to the interview. Carry only a thin day planner – and do not clutter it with a bunch of cards or extra paper that could fall out and make you look disorganized. And staying light will make it easier and less awkward to go out on a plant tour or walk around and meet people.

**I have received an offer from a company, but the organization I really want to work for has not finished interviewing me yet. What should I do?**

First, thank the company that gave you the offer and indicate that, although you are excited about the possibility of working for that employer, you have already committed yourself to finishing up another interview round. Most employers want to ensure you will be happy as a future employee, and will therefore give you a week or so before a final decision needs to be made.

Then, contact the employer that has not made an offer and explain your situation. Say that, although you are very interested in their organization, you are under a tight deadline. Say that you will need to know by a certain date whether they are also interested in you.

If the second organization is indeed serious, they will make you their top priority to avoid losing you, if they do not, there is your answer as well.