Have you ever shown up 30 minutes early to an interview and then awkwardly waited for the person at the front desk to help you? Well, you’ve already made an impression – and not the good kind.

Showing up too early for an interview and not introducing yourself are pre-interview etiquette faux-pas. That’s why we’ve come up with a few simple rules for you to follow. Here’s how you can differentiate yourself before you even step into the interview room:

First Thing’s First: Dress Like You Care.

It doesn’t matter that you can wear ripped jeans and worn-out sweaters at your agency job – don’t wear that to an interview. Not even an interview with a recruiter. Managers and recruiters still care that you can present yourself as a polished and thoughtful professional. Make it clear that you appreciate their time and the opportunity to speak with them.

Just Google It.

It’s best not to call your interview location for direction on how to find their office. Most of the time, you will receive a set of instructions from a recruiter or an HR manager on how to get to their space. Pay attention to this email – read it carefully and save it in case you run into trouble. This will show them that you’ve read their instructions and can figure things out for yourself. And if they don’t send you an email? Just google it and confirm the information with them before the date of the interview. Make sure you can give yourself an A for effort before you even think about calling.

Hold Your Horses but Don’t Be Late.

Unless you’ve been given specific instructions to show-up early, it’s not necessary to be seated and waiting for an interview 15 minutes ahead of time. Here’s the general rule: get seated and be ready to interview 5 minutes before it is scheduled to take place. Plan your drive so that you’re at the location with enough time to feel confident and comfortable. But, if you’re extra early and you know exactly which door to enter, which suite number it is, etc, just sit in the car for a few minutes and review your notes. And, if you are going to be late, give the person you are meeting with a heads up and call!

Never, Never Assume.

The individual behind the front desk is not always a receptionist. Treat them how you’d want to be treated if someone randomly walked into your office: approach them, smile, introduce yourself and tell them why you’re there, including the name of the person you’re meeting. It saves them the awkward task of having to ask – especially if they just happen to occupy the space near the door. If they’re on the phone or look like they’re in the middle of something, wait patiently and approach them when there’s an appropriate opening. Don’t worry – they see you.

The Art of The Handshake.

You may end up shaking hands with the worker behind the front desk or your first handshake may be with HR or the hiring manager. With whomever you shake hands, ensure that you exude confidence. Nobody likes shaking hands with a dead fish.

Why Pre-Interview Etiquette Matters

Ever heard of that interview technique where a hiring manager takes you to lunch so they can see how you interact with the waitstaff? Well, there’s a very good chance that the people you interviewed with will ask the individual at the front what they thought of you when you walked through the door. Make sure you leave a genuine, friendly, and respectful first impression. It might make or break any next steps with the employer.

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Celarity is an award-winning Staffing & Recruiting agency for Marketing, Creative & Digital talent with a mission: Creating happy careers with meaningful connections. For 30 years we have proudly connected 600+ companies with over 5,000 candidates.


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