Job Seeker Etiquette: Simple Tools for a Successful Career, Part II

Continuing our examination of how showing respect and appreciation are critical components of job seeker etiquette, let’s take a look at how hiring managers, recruiters, and references would like candidates to treat them during the interview and final negotiation phases.

Phase 2: The Interview

For most candidates, the interview phase begins with a screening interview with an HR recruiter, followed by interviews with the hiring manager and members of their team who contribute to the hiring decision.

When you reach out:

  • Respond to scheduling and other requests from the HR recruiter (e.g., copies of resumes, work samples, etc.) right away to show respect for their time
  • Ask logistical questions to help you:
    • prepare for your interview (e.g., names of interviewers so you can look them up on LinkedIn, follow them on Twitter and find common ground)
    • arrive in plenty of time (e.g.,  instructions for parking, getting through security, finding the reception area)
  • Be enthusiastic to show appreciation for having the opportunity to present yourself as a candidate and respect for the stature of the company

When you connect:office

Be exceptionally well-prepared to show that you are serious about the job and the company, and not wasting their time:

  • Don’t just parrot facts and figures about the size of the company, its history and most popular products from the company web site (a major complaint of HR recruiters)


    • Do secondary research to understand the context in which the company operates (who they compete with, how they compare to the competition, what is driving market changes, what they’re doing that’s new or innovative, whether they are growing ahead of or with the market, what they say about themselves and their products or services)
    • Conduct informational interviews with people in the field or holding the job you are interviewing for to understand the expectations for and demands of the role
    • Prepare a set of questions that show you’ve done your homework and are interested in the answers
  • As always, show respect and good judgment by being on time and better dressed than your interviewers, and silencing your electronic devices (watch, phone, tablet) during interviews
  • Bring a pen and small notebook to capture the most important takeaways from your interviews on breaks between interviews so that you can actively engage with your interviewers and still have notes to refer back to when you write thank you notes.
  • Be enthusiastic about being there and meeting their employees to show that you value the experience and the people, even if you are not 100% certain the job is for you

When you follow up:

  • Write to thank the people you met or spoke with right away (within a few hours, not days) to express appreciation for their perspectives and time
    • Send individual notes, not group email blasts
    • Tailor your notes to reflect some aspect of your discussion to show that you were interested enough to remember what they had to say
    • Write a separate note to the HR recruiter who is coordinating all the meetings to express appreciation for this effort and your overall enthusiasm for the company, its employees and the role you are applying for
  • Copy the HR recruiter on your  thank you note to each interviewer to show that you respect the talent search process they are managing and have been a gracious candidate
  • Thank anyone else who helped you get the interview within 1-2 days to reaffirm the value of their efforts and gratify them with updates on your progress
  • Ask the HR recruiter for permission to re-contact them periodically for updates on the status of your application to show you respect their time and process (and won’t hound them)
  • Say thank you to HR recruiters and hiring managers for the opportunity, even if they hire someone else

Phase 3: Close the Deal

As you get close to receiving a formal job offer, the HR recruiter will request that you provide some references to help the company solidify their hiring decision. This should not be the first time you reach out to your potential references to request their endorsement.

When you reach out:

  • Give your references adequate notice (a week or more, if possible) that they will be contacted to show you respect their time so that they can advise you of their availability and plan their schedule
  • Provide your references with the details of the company and position you are applying for, why you are a good fit/are excited about the opportunity and the name of the HR recruiter who will be contacting them (if you know it) so they can feel well prepared for the call and in a position to truly help you

If you’ve managed to get through multiple job interviews, reference checks and intermittent conversations with hiring managers and recruiters successfully, you have undoubtedly mastered the art of respect and appreciation. Applying these tools to negotiating salary, benefits, start dates, and other details related to your final offer will be a snap!

Post by Lisa Noble (CLAS ’87). ReadJob Seeker Etiquette: Simple Tools for a Successful Career, Part I”


After graduating from University of Virginia (CLAS ’87), armed with a degree in psychology but lacking useful contacts and career direction, Lisa sweet talked her way into a succession of increasingly responsible jobs, from Educational Testing Director at The Johns Hopkins University to Senior Consultant at IBM to US Research Director at Bayer Healthcare and finally VP of Quantitative Insight at a WPP marketing consultancy. Her work over the past 14 years leading teams of young people, creating career paths and grooming them for their next employer or role has led her to start Career Connectors, LLC. There, she helps recent college grads and career changers discover, market themselves for and land great jobs


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