Interview etiquette for managers [A Complete Guide]

Workforce Management
JC Cornell

By JC Cornell
September 21, 2020

July 16, 2024

0 min read

Ever wonder what might be turning away great candidates from your job offers?

While much advice is given to job seekers, it's equally crucial for managers to consider their interview etiquette.Missteps in this area can inadvertently discourage top talent from pursuing opportunities with your company.

Adopting proper interview etiquette not only minimises these risks but also ensures candidates leave with a positive impression.


Effective etiquette involves respecting candidates' time, creating a welcoming atmosphere, and providing timely feedback. 

Use these 12 tips and maintain your interview etiquette every time.

1. Arrive prepared

An interview is not the time to start winging it, candidates can tell when you are not prepared.

You expect your candidates to arrive prepared for their interview, and the same is expected of you. Make sure you read any resumes before the interview starts. Have a list of questions prepared in advance that relate to the responsibilities of the job.

2. Start on time – end on time

be punctual

Punctuality can never be overemphasised. You are setting the tone of how a candidate is expected to behave should they become an employee. Not only is it essential interview etiquette but excellent office etiquette too.

Punctuality requires zero talent but reaps massive rewards. Respect the candidate's time by ensuring that interviews end on time – if not a few minutes early. They may have other interviews scheduled, and having you hold them up will not endear you to anyone.

3. Know what is inappropriate

While some interview etiquette mistakes are common, some are far more serious. Any questions or comments that involve ageism, sexism, racism, or any other nefarious isms prohibited by law, should never make their way into your interview.

Maintain constant vigilance that none of these biases worms their way into your communication. Enter every interview with an open mind and a careful tongue.

4. Dress professionally

While you don’t have to wear a suit and tie, you do need to look your best. Your attire should indicate your corporate culture. However, keep in mind that this is still a professional meeting. Create a great first impression.

5. Minimise your distractions

no distractions in interviews

Don’t take any calls. Cellphones need to be away and on silent. If you are meeting in your office, close your email to avoid notification pings.

Minimise any office distractions by making sure everyone is aware you are in an interview, and to only interrupt should a fire alarm go off. Make your interview space a focused one.

6. Pay attention

Instead of focusing on the next question you need to ask, employ your listening skills. Pay attention to what candidates are saying.

Pause at the end of their answer, as their second level response could be much more in-depth than their first one. By actively listening to them, you can diversify your questions to match what they have already told you, and dive deeper into any pre-planned answers.

Remember not to interrupt. It can be tempting to jump in to clarify what a candidate is saying. But doing so throws people off their train of thought and can disrupt the flow of a great interview.

7. It’s a conversation, not an interrogation

Your potential employees are not on trial – don’t interrogate them. Without a good conversation, you will never get to know a candidate’s real personality.

Smile, relax and get less formal. The opposite will cause the candidates to stress and clam up. You are looking for candidates to truly open up about what they are looking for in their next role, and to get them excited about this opportunity.

8. Ask the same set of questions for the same job

You will likely be interviewing 2-5 candidates for a role. If you are not asking them all the same set of questions, you will have no way of evaluating them properly.

This doesn’t mean that you cannot ask any additional questions that come up based on your conversation. It means that your core questions should stay the same for every interview for the same job.

9. Behavioural questions instead of trick questions

There should be a behavioural interview portion to your conversation. This will give you a better idea of how a candidate will react in situations they are likely to encounter. Make them specific to past performance and situations.

Don’t fill your interview with trick or off-the-wall questions that have no relation to the job. You may want to see how a candidate thinks on their feet, but you can come off as unprofessional.

10. Stop judging

If you are letting your unconscious bias get in the way of interview etiquette, you are doing yourself and your candidate a disservice. During and after you have completed interviews, take time to think about exactly what it was that a candidate did or said that turned them into a ‘No’ for you.

This method of analysis will help you begin to distill the decisions made as a result of unconscious bias from those made based on fact.

11. Stop looking for a superhero

It is unrealistic to expect that there is one perfect candidate out there that will fill every one of your requirements.

People come with a wide variety of skills and industry experience. You need to look at a candidate’s actual qualifications and how they can excel in your role. Doing otherwise will cause you to waste time and miss out on exceptional candidates that could be perfect with minimal training.

12. Leave time for candidate questions

The interview is not all about you. Interview etiquette demands that you acknowledge that by leaving time for candidate questions. Give candidates a chance to interview their interviewer. You don’t ever want a candidate leaving with unanswered questions.

Top 5 Dos and Don'ts of Interview Etiquette for Managers


Create a welcoming atmosphere

Greet candidates warmly and ensure they feel comfortable.

Communicate clearly

Explain the interview process and timeline upfront to manage expectations clearly.

Listen actively

Pay close attention to what candidates say and show genuine interest in their responses.

Ask relevant questions

Prepare thoughtful, job-related questions to assess skills and fit accurately.

Provide constructive feedback

Offer feedback that helps candidates understand their performance and areas for improvement.


Don't wing it

Avoid conducting interviews without proper preparation or understanding of the candidate.

Don't interrupt

Allow candidates to finish their thoughts without interrupting them.

Don't overshare

Avoid discussing confidential company information or personal matters.

Don't rush

Take sufficient time to evaluate each candidate thoroughly before making a decision.

Don't be distracted

Refrain from checking emails or taking calls during the interview.

Win over top talent by improving your interview processes

You may find the interview process as stressful as your candidates do. Interview etiquette will help you appear the consummate professional that you are. Knowing crucial interview etiquette ground rules puts you ahead of the game.

Remember you never have to do this all alone! If you are looking to fill open roles with highly-skilled, pre-qualified candidates that are a great fit and will be long term assets in your company connect with one of us today!

Let’s work together to make your company the success it should be.

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