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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Monday, July 18, 2005

On job trail, manners do matter

By Carol Kleiman
Chicago Tribune


"Etiquette: the manners established by convention as acceptable or required in society and business."


Etiquette is an important concept in a civilized society: It serves as a guide to your manners and behavior, usually in social situations.

What does it have to do with a job interview?

A lot, according to Robin Ryan, a career coach based in New Castle, Wash.

"Etiquette is an overlooked and lost art of how you should present yourself in a job interview," said Ryan, author of "60 Seconds & You're Hired!" (Penguin, $13).

"It includes your appearance, your manners and your behavior — how you act during the interview."

Ryan says having proper etiquette during a meeting with a potential employer clearly is an advantage.

"Jobs are hard to find today," Ryan said. "Knowing what to do establishes you as a more valuable employee because the employer knows immediately that this is how you are going to project yourself to clients and others in the company.

"If you practice business etiquette, it means you know how to behave professionally — and that is an advantage."

Ryan's rules of etiquette:

  • "Dress up!"

    "Dress like the manager you want to be someday or even the manager above that," Ryan said. "Your shoes should be shined, you should be clean and neat. You should be able to walk in and meet the CEO and not be embarrassed."

    She deplores dressing "inappropriately, such as wearing T-shirts with obscenities on them, baggy pants that are falling off or micro-mini skirts."

  • Be on time.

    "Employers know if you can't arrive on time for the interview, you won't be able to get there on time for the job."

  • Social interaction.

    "Practice that firm handshake with eye contact and be sure to smile," she advised. "It sends a message of confidence. And be enthusiastic about the job!"

  • Send a thank-you note.

    "It should be hand-written. Employers tell me when they can't decide between two candidates and one sends a handwritten thank-you note and the other an e-mail, they choose the one who wrote a letter because it shows you're willing to go the extra mile."

    Will following the rules guarantee you employment? "I can't say just because you do it right it means you'll get the job," Ryan said. "But the lack of etiquette is a reason not to hire you and to hire someone else."