Seven Interview Etiquette and Attire Guidelines for Your Next Engineering Job Interview

The day has come, and you are getting ready to head out to the engineering job interview that you worked tirelessly to land. The following are some guidelines to adhere to with respect to interview etiquette and attire. I know some of these may seem totally obvious, but you would be amazed on what some people wear, say, and do during interviews.

1.  Familiarize yourself with the location of the interview well in advance of the actual date. Please don’t just trust Google Maps or a $0.99 iPhone GPS app to get you to your prospective employer’s office. In addition to Google and GPS, I recommend calling the office and asking for directions, just to be safe. I also recommend driving there at some point during the week prior to the interview as a dry run. That may sound excessive, but if you are late, it could cost you the job!

2.  Wear a suit, no questions asked. Please wear a suit to the interview, no matter what anyone says to you. Just because it may be a construction company doesn’t mean you can wear jeans and work boots. When people see you for the first time, they make an instant judgment, so failure to dress properly can set you back with the interviewer(s) before you even say a word.

3.  Shut your cell phone OFF before you enter the prospective employer’s office. Bringing a cell phone into an interview is like carrying a loaded weapon. If it goes off, you might kill any chance you had at landing that job. It’s simply not worth it to even put it on vibrate; just shut it off, or better yet, leave it in the car. Also, NEVER play games on your phone in the office of the prospective employer. Don’t laugh—I have seen it happen.

4.  Show up at least 15 minutes early. Yes, at least 15 minutes early, and when you get there, go right into the office. Tell the receptionist that you wanted to show up earlier in case there was any paperwork that you had to fill out. Being early can only help you when the prospective employer evaluates your overall performance.

5.  Pay a compliment to the interviewers. When you arrive early, ask the receptionist to point you to the restroom. On your walk there, take a look around the office. Look for project awards or announcements on the walls, or just observe the overall layout of the office. When you go into the interview, compliment the interviewers on something that you saw, like an award or the cleanliness of the office. Do not manufacture a compliment; be sincere. If you find nothing at all that is of interest in the office, skip the compliment.

6.  Do not cut people off during the interview. You will most likely be nervous and excited during the interview, which is totally understandable, but try hard not to cut the interviewers off when they talk. Make it a point to listen to the questions, and respond only when they are completely finished talking. This is much easier said than done, but if done properly, this strategy will improve the connection between you and the interviewers, because it is a subtle sign of respect from you to them.

7.  Don’t ask for a drink, but don’t refuse if offered. You don’t want to make them go out of their way at all, but if the interviewer offers you a coffee or water, don’t turn them down. If you don’t drink coffee, just say “A water would be great, thank you.” This again strengthens the connection with the person and gives you another minute or two to gather your thoughts prior to diving in!

I am sure some of these guidelines seem obvious to you, but each one of them is critical to your success during the job interview. Please leave comments below with any other guidelines you might recommend to our readers.

This is a guest post by Anthony Fasano, PE, author of Engineer Your Own Success. Anthony found success as an engineer at a very early age and now writes and podcasts to help other engineers do the same. Visit Anthony’s website and subscribe to the top 3 resources Anthony has used to become a partner in a firm at the age of 27.