Careers advice in Australia blog

Australian interview etiquette

If you’ve made it to the interview stage, now is the time to give the interviewer a clear idea of what kind of employee you would be and how beneficial you could be to their business. Your interview etiquette will play a huge role in this.

The interview is the make-or-break moment in your job application process, so having a full awareness of interview etiquette and how to use it is in your best interests.

Interview Etiquette – First step, responding to the call:

You might not know this, but your interview starts before you get there, at the moment you answer the call. This first impression is vital and the main thing is to make sure you’re prepared.

The main thing is to make sure you’re prepared. If the call comes through while you’re driving or at the shops etc, rather than take the call then and sound rushed or distracted, it’s better to simply say ‘I’m sorry, I’m driving / about to head into an appointment, can I give you a call back later?’ This will allow you time to compose yourself, and then be able to handle the conversation with all the information you require around you.

There are three main things to make sure you know before the call ends, namely:

1.      When and where is the interview?

2.      Who will be interviewing you?

3.      Whether you need to prepare or bring anything.

Interview Etiquette – First face-to-face impressions:

How your interviewer first sees you will be a deciding factor in whether they hire you. If they see a flustered individual rushing in late, this creates an immediate negative opinion. Ideally, you want to arrive ten minutes early – any later and you look rushed, any earlier and you can be seen as too eager.

The way you dress for an interview is another key element. What you wear tells the interviewer about how you conduct yourself professionally, and if your clothes are unprofessional they will form a negative idea of you.

The main thing to remember is to dress for the industry. While different industries might give you more freedom in this, these are good general templates.

For men:

–        Wear subtle colours like a dark suit, white shirt and blue tie.

–        Wear polished black shoes and a matching belt.

–        Be clean-shaven, or otherwise have a trimmed beard.

For women:

–        Wear suit pants or a long skirt, a corporate shirt or top and a suit jacket.

–        Wear closed toe shoes with a short heel.

–        Don’t use too much makeup or an overly-strong perfume.

–        Avoid wearing too much jewellery, as this can be seen as ‘tacky’.

In Australia, a handshake is a customary greeting, particularly in business situations. How you shake hands gives the other person an insight into what kind of a person you are, with a firm handshake indicating a solid worker, whereas a limp or crushing one will present someone who is either a pushover or too arrogant.

Your body language communicates a similar message, and there are some important things to remember about how you move your body during your interview.

–        Don’t slouch – sitting up straight will be looked upon positively.

–        Don’t touch your face – this indicates anything from deceit to disgust, and your interviewer will recognise this.

–        Keep fidgeting to a minimum – fidgeting shows both distraction and fear, neither of which you want an interviewer to see.

–        Make eye contact – making eye contact is a good way of establishing trust, and will help you immensely.

–        Smile – you want to show how comfortable you are discussing your skills, smiling will help convince your interviewer of this.

Where hygiene is important in the workplace, it is doubly so in the interview stage. You want your interviewer to remember you as a charming, comfortable applicant who would be a good fit for the advertised role, not as the applicant who looks like they don’t wash or who didn’t wear deodorant.  Make certain that you look and smell good before attending your interview.

Interview Etiquette – The conversation:

Always remember that the interviewer is the one leading the conversation – they want you to talk, but not the whole time. Respond to each question with a clear and concise response, and then pass the conversation back to them. Similarly, arrogance will be frowned upon, so it’s worth being objective with your accomplishments. Tell them what you did and achieved, but don’t boast as they will notice and mark you down for it.

Equally important is that you respect their time to talk and question – interrupting them will be seen as highly rude.

Another part of interview etiquette is knowing what you should and shouldn’t ask.

If the answer to a question you want to ask is probably online, you shouldn’t ask about it in the interview. Doing so shows the interviewer that you haven’t read up thoroughly on the company, and will indicate that you miss important bits of information.

Questions about the salary are also high up there on the list of things you should avoid. The required information should be online, so it will again show your inability to notice key information, and from a cultural view it is perceived as being distinctly rude. Likewise, questions about time-off, promotion and perks, while logical, are absolutely questions that you should answer for yourself by searching online.

Interview Etiquette – Key things to remember:

–        Be on time – being late will immediately make your interviewer think poorly of you.

–        Consider your appearance – do you look professional?

–        Hygiene – an interviewer will be disinclined to hire someone who looks unclean or who lacks deodorant.

–        Share the conversation – the interviewer wants to hear what you have to say, but does not want to be talked over or be overburdened with information, let them talk too.

–        Avoid impolite questions – questions about pay, time off etc will create a negative opinion of you.

Final thoughts – Making the best possible impression:

Be open, courteous and relaxed around your interviewer; answer questions concisely and confidently while avoiding sounding arrogant. Ensure that your appearance is suitable for the job and that your hygiene is beyond question.

If you feel you could use some help in getting through an interview, our Interview Masterclass for international students and skilled migrants is a great way to advance your skills and impress a potential employer. Please feel free to get in touch so we can work towards making your goals a reality.

I wish you all the best in your job search!

Naren,
Career Coach, ACECIS

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