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First Interview Etiquette: 7 Best Practices

While general preparation is essential to your first interview, more specific best practices for etiquette can make you stand out in all the best ways.

While thorough preparation is essential to your first interview, more specific best practices for etiquette can make you stand out from the other candidates. Once you've practiced everything from your answers to common behavioral questions to your elevator pitch, you're ready to prepare your first interview etiquette. First interview etiquette is important, as even the smallest infraction can shape how an interviewer sees you and your ability to do the job.

From how you dress to how you treat the receptionist, practicing good etiquette during your first interview can make or break your chances of getting the job. In order to help you practice and prepare for your first interview, we've put together a list of best practices for interview etiquette. Rehearse your responses, be professional and courteous and follow these etiquette tips to help you land the job during your first interview.

1. Practice, Practice, Practice
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Practice is important to every step of the interviewing process and the more you practice, the more natural it becomes. On a daily basis, practice your manners, appropriate body language, and being professional and courteous to all those you come into contact with. Practice makes perfect and using these rules of interview etiquette regularly will make them second nature for the next time you are faced with an intimidating first interview.

2. Don't Be Tardy

The worst thing you can do is show up late to a first interview, especially when you are making a first impression. Give yourself plenty of time to get to the interview, and always plan to arrive 10-15 minutes early. If possible, do a trial run the day before the first interview to ensure that you have planned for any emergencies or contingencies, and always give yourself plenty of time to get there, take a deep breath and relax before you interview starts.

3. Smile, Be Friendly and Make Eye Contact

Good body language is almost as important as your past experience. Your body language can convey a completely different message than what you say. Often, body language is more effective at conveying your real attitude than your words. Keep a friendly smile on your face, shake hands solidly and make eye contact with everyone in the room. When you are asked a question, direct the answer to the asker, but include everyone in the room by making eye contact with each of them. Poor body language, such as fidgeting, chewing gum or looking at the table or floor can show a lack of confidence, which tells the interviewer that you aren't comfortable with your ability to do the job.

4. Wardrobe Etiquette for First Interviews

Your first interview is the first time you'll be seen in the flesh, which means it's your shot at making a solid first impression. If you are unsure of what to wear, contact the person who set up your interview and ask for advice. Is it a formal workplace, or will business casual be acceptable? When in doubt, err on the side of overdressing versus underdressing. Keep makeup simple, nails short and clean, perfume and cologne subtle, and always wear crisp, clean clothing to a first interview. Avoid gaudy clothing, too much makeup or jewelry or clothing items that will be a distraction; you want to be judged on your experience, not on your outfit.

5. Say Yes to the Water

If you're offered a glass of water or other beverage at the beginning of the interview, take it even if you aren't particularly thirsty. Sipping water often gives you a few extra seconds to formulate the answer to a particularly puzzling question or a chance to compose yourself and find your center when something challenging is thrown your way.

6. Watch Your Volume

Confidence is one thing but a loud voice is another. When answering questions, interviewees tend to get louder as they get more excited about what they are discussing. When interviewing, keep your voice at a middle level — not so quiet that you can't be heard, but no so loud that everyone in the adjoining offices can hear you. Practice the volume of your voice beforehand to ensure that you come across as confident but not boisterous and loud.

7. Bring Your Own Questions

The interviewers aren't the only ones who should be asking questions during a first interview. This is also your chance to ask any questions that you have about the company or the job. Preparing questions in advance also shows the interviewer that have done your homework on the company and shows that you are capable of critical thinking and addressing problems head on. Avoid questions about salary and benefits until you've been offered the job, but feel free to ask anything related to your responsibilities or the company.

Follow these first interview etiquette rules to ensure that you are prepared, poised and confident before you enter a first interview and you'll be ready to show them why you are the best candidate for the job.

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