No BS Job Search Advice: Manners Aren’t Just for Children

Manners Aren't Just for Children

I remember when my son was six years old. I regularly watched him and his friends eat and I’ll just say Hannibal and the Roman armies as they are depicted in old movies ate with better manners.

Food would land on their clothes and would fly everywhere. It was eaten with hands despite frequent requests not to do so.

And then I started to notice how job applicant manners can sometimes be childish, too. Here are a few reminders about do’s and don’ts, both for interviews and elsewhere in the job­hunting process.

  • Arrive at the interview early, particularly with human resources. It should go without saying but unfortunately needs to be said because people keep arriving at their interviews late. Five minutes. Twenty minutes. Forty­ five minutes late. It’s all rude.
  • If you are late, apologize, and explain. Don’t pretend that nothing happened. Acknowledge it. Two of my clients would reject someone for not explaining lateness, thinking that if they are rude when they are supposed to be polite, what will they do when they are comfortable.
  • Remember to spell check before you hit send. I confess to making this mistake, particularly with my blog, and, fortunately, I have gotten better with this. Readers have told me how a spelling mistake (they are generally caused by typos) irks them. Now imagine what it is like when someone reads your resume and it is replete with spelling errors.
  • Turn your cell phone off to make sure it doesn’t chime, chirp, or beep during the interview. I recall hearing about a job hunter taking a call for five minutes while in an interview, keeping the hiring manager waiting throughout. UGH!
  • For lunch or dinner meetings, don’t focus on the food and forget the person. Your interview is more important than fixating on the appetizer, no matter how good it is. Oh, yes, don’t eat like my son and his friends did.
  • Don’t rush through or brush off the application. An application is a legal document. At most companies, completing one falsely (which can include inaccurately) is grounds for dismissal. Rushing through it, unless asked to do so, sends a message to the employer of disrespect (they will have trouble reading your handwriting when you rush). Do everything well.
  • Make sure your voice mail at home, at the office, and on your cell phone sound professional. A child’s voice is adorable. Really. But put yourself into the caller’s shoes and imagine what it is like to listen to the voices of the entire family in voicemail messages. “This is Adam (the child), Lois (the mother), and Roger (the father). (TOGETHER) Please leave a message when you hear the beep.” It stopped being cute somewhere in the 1990s.
  • Send a “Thank you e­mail” after the interview. At the interview, look them right in the eye, shake their hand, and thank them for interviewing you. Tell them of your interest in the job. Speak sincerely. Then send a thank you e­mail afterward.

    © 2006, 2014, 2020 all rights reserved.


    Jeff Altman, The Big Game HunterJeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter is a coach who worked as a recruiter for what seems like one hundred years. His work involves career coaching, all as well as executive job search coaching, job coaching, and interview coaching. He is the host of “No BS Job Search Advice Radio,” the #1 podcast in iTunes for job search with more than 1900 episodes, and is a member of The Forbes Coaches Council.

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