Interview Etiquette: How to Make a Great First Impression

Serena Taylor

You’ve passed the application stage and are now preparing for the upcoming interview. Whether you’re a seasoned professional or interviewing for your first job, it's always a good idea to brush up on your interview etiquette in order to make an excellent first impression.

Do your research

Know who is going to be interviewing you - whether it’s one person or a panel. Research them online to understand who they are and look for common ground - LinkedIn and the company website are the best places to find out this information. The most successful interviews often take place when interviewer and interviewee find areas of mutual interest and relevance. Understanding their specialities and background should also help you make conversation and make a good impression.

It’s also really important you know about the company you’re interviewing for. Having a look at their website, reading their blog, reading about any recent company news shows that you have a genuine interest in the position. It will also give you an idea about company ethos and culture, which is important so that you strike the right tone in the interview.

Look the part

Looking smart and well-groomed in an interview is always essential, so it probably best to err on the side of caution when it comes to the dress code. Even if the company does not have a dress code, make sure you look the part as first impressions really do stick.The level of formality will usually depend on the company’s size and industryFor example, a startup tech company with a ten-person team is likely to have a more informal dress code, than a medium-size law firm. If you’re still unsure about what to wear take a look at our interview dress guide.

Greet everyone politely

First impressions really do count so it’s important that you greet everyone you encounter from the moment you step inside the building. It is not unheard of for security personnel and receptionists to be asked to give feedback on candidates so make sure you’re polite. When greeting your interviewer(s) make sure you give a firm handshake and introduce yourself clearly, maintaining eye contact. Good body language will set the tone for the interview and can help you feel more confident from the start!


Interviewees often make the mistake of cramming in too many of their strengths or pieces of experience into one answer. Try to keep your answers succinct and to the point, drawing on different scenarios to provide supportive evidence to your claims. Make sure you pick up key things which your interviewer talks about and respond to them when the interviewer has finished speaking - rather than butting in. If you are struggling to answer any question, it’s OK to talk through your thoughts and take some time answering the question. Most of the time interviewers will be looking to assess your way of tackling questions and solving problems - this is usually more important than getting the “correct” answer.

Ask questions when you’re given the chance to

While it's important to listen, you should also show interest in the company and the role you’re applying to by asking insightful questions. Most interviews will conclude by asking the candidate if they have questions -  so you should definitely come prepared. Aim to have at least two to three questions prepared for the interview.

Don't be late

It goes without saying that you shouldn’t be late to an interview but finding new locations can be tricky. Leave enough time in order to get to your interview 15 minutes before the interview is meant to take place in order to avoid arriving flustered. This will give you time to collect your thoughts and fill out any forms to complete. If you’re going to an unfamiliar location there’s no harm doing a trial run so see how long it will take you to get there.

Come prepared

Make sure that you bring along your CV as it is likely that you will be talking through it as part of the interview. You should already have identified elements of your CV that demonstrate your suitability to the role you are applying for and any transferable skills. Make sure that your phone is on silent or turned off in order to avoid embarrassment during the interview.


Last but not least - smile! It will help you appear more relaxed and friendly, rather the nervousness you may really be feeling inside….