Interviewing for IT Positions: Manners Still Matter

The world of IT has always been fast-paced and less formal than other industries. Efficiency often takes priority over dress codes and business hours. Business communications that used to be strictly formatted and written in perfect English have been replaced with text and email messages that cut straight to the point.

When talking to recruiters or employers about your next IT position, however, it’s important to remember that manners still matter. Even if you end up receiving a better offer from another company, your interactions during the interview process will be remembered. Here are a few tips on etiquette during the recruiting and interviewing process.

  • Put away your cell phone before meeting anyone in person, whether it’s a recruiter or a hiring manager. When you arrive at the office where the interview will take place, be courteous and friendly to the receptionist or security officer who checks you in and sit at attention in the waiting area (without your phone). Smile and shake hands with the person who escorts you into the building. Be aware that many hiring managers ask everyone who has had contact with a candidate for their impressions.
  • Dress conservatively for in-person interviews, even if the normal dress code is casual. This is a sign of respect and shows that you take your career seriously. No need to overdo it; alignment is better than showmanship. If it is a known casual environment, men can forego a tie. Flashy jewelry, a diamond-studded watch or other “statement making” attire is inappropriate.
  • Give the person you’re meeting with a firm handshake, make eye contact and smile. Regardless of whether you end up working with this person or not, make sure they will remember you as friendly, confident and professional.
  • Don’t apply directly for a position if a recruiter has already submitted you as a candidate, and don’t work with a recruiter if you’ve already applied for the same position directly. This may disqualify you from being considered for the job.
  • Always thank a recruiter or interviewer for taking time out of their day to call or meet with you. If you are interested in the position, follow-up with an email or hand-written note. Take this opportunity to state why you believe your experience uniquely qualifies you for the position. Tie past experiences and skills to the opening.
  • If you feel the opportunity being presented is not a good fit or you have accepted another position, be honest. Don’t hide from one firm while waiting for a better offer – just tell them your situation and find out the deadline for giving them an answer. I’ve seen good offers evaporate when candidates went dark, holding out for another offer that didn’t materialize. Turn down a formal offer as soon as possible, so the firm can extend an offer to another candidate. People appreciate frank, timely feedback and will be more likely to call you in the future or recommend you for another position.

Here’s the bottom line: It is a small world and you would be surprised how interconnected the IT community is. You never know when you will need a friend, so strive to establish positive relationships with people who will be eager to help you throughout your career. Good luck!