How to master interview etiquette: A firm handshake may open doors, but the wrong questions can talk you out of a job

Your posture sends signals to the interviewer and can affect your confidence as well
Interviews are a minefield. You’re in an alien environment, it can sometimes feel like your interviewer is taking shots at you, and any misstep may result in total defeat.
Anxious candidates are increasingly resorting to professional coaching in an attempt to immunise themselves, but the truth is there is no way of telling exactly which questions or scenarios you will face. You can, however, maximise your chances of impressing by preparing properly and presenting yourself in a confident and professional manner.

A FIRM HANDSHAKE

A good handshake should break ice, not bone. More than an initial display of your strength, a handshake can actually improve the dynamic between you and your interviewer. In 2012, a study in the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience found that a handshake “has a favourable effect on evaluations of competence, trustworthiness, and interest to pursue future business interactions”.
Do not look down at the interviewer’s hand, maintain eye contact and smile sincerely as you approach. Angle your palm slightly towards the floor. But be careful: a little tilt can suggest confidence but overdoing it will appear dominant.

GOOD POSTURE

Your interview can take a turn for the worse before you even start talking, and it’s all down to your posture. When you adopt an open posture, holding your head up, unfolding your arms and sitting with your legs apart, you expose the areas of your body which are most susceptible to trauma and avoid appearing defensive.
Not only will a good posture impress your interviewer, research by Ohio State University in 2009 concluded that it can also increase your own confidence.

SPEAK SLOWLY AND CLEARLY

Most of us feel nervous in job interviews. The key is to avoid appearing anxious to your interviewer by speaking slowly and clearly. Not only will you be better understood but your answers are more likely to be coherent.
Despite your best efforts, if you find yourself punctuating your answers with “like” and “I mean”, don’t worry too much. Recent studies have found that these discourse markers can actually be perceived as signs of more considered speech. However, they divide opinion so are best avoided if possible.
Resist the temptation to begin answering a question before your interviewer has finished speaking. Far from appearing astute, you’ll seem rude and signal that you won’t respond well to criticism or instruction.

AVOID INAPPROPRIATE QUESTIONS

There is no point honing your handshake only to leave a sour taste in your interviewer’s mouth with inappropriate questions.
“Any questions?” is probably the only thing you are guaranteed to be asked and yet is probably the most neglected part of interview preparation. The questions you choose will reveal as much about you as the answers you have already given.
If you are struggling, begin with a practical question about the way the department functions or how work is distributed. Follow this up with a more farsighted question about the firm’s philosophy, goals and how your role would help to achieve them. Finally, posing a personal question to the interviewer about their time at the firm gives you the chance to end proceedings on a more lighthearted and friendly note.

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