University of Massachusetts Amherst

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Manners and Etiquette

Your manners and etiquette during interviews really matter. The way you present yourself and interact with people can be a key factor in landing a job. The following tips will help you to impress most employers.


  • Be friendly to everyone you see. Stand and smile when people come into the room or when they are introduced to you.
  • Offer a firm handshake: Gender does not change who offers the handshake or how it’s done. Be sure to connect the webbing between your thumb and forefinger to the webbing of the other person's thumb and forefinger. Give back the amount of pressure you receive, and maintain direct eye contact with the person. Hold objects (business cards, portfolio) in your left hand to keep your right hand free.
  • Sit up straight. Do not slouch or cross your legs.
  • Beware of interviews over meals. If your interview includes lunch or dinner, learn about table etiquette before you go ( provides a good start). Order from the mid-price range on the menu, and choose something easy to eat neatly. Do not order alcohol, no matter your age. Do not speak with your mouth full. The person inviting you is expected to pay. Remember to thank them for the meal.


  • Smile as frequently as possible—especially when you are asked a question—but don’t overdo it.
  • Maintain good eye contact. If there is more than one interviewer, look from person to person.
  • Be articulate. Listen carefully to each question and think for a moment before giving your answer.


  • Cross your arms—it makes you look defensive.
  • Sit on the edge of your seat.
  • Touch your face, or play with your jewelry or hair.
  • Rock on your seat.
  • Interrupt when being asked a question.
  • Give one-word answers, unless the question dictates a one-word answer.