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Courtesy goes a long way with anything in life. When it comes to hiring, the courtesy you show interviewers and hiring managers can be the point that swings the decision your way.
Courtesy isn't only a matter of how you handle yourself during an in-person job interview, although that is important. It actually goes to maintaining a positive experience with the employer throughout the process — from the first email until you become a team member.
To do so, it's important you focus always on your prospective employer's needs and priorities — without overlooking yours, of course. This is a balancing act that requires the ability to maintain professional demeanour, good manners and responsiveness without appearing to be too pushy or desperate. To do so, keep the following areas in mind.
To demonstrate courtesy in your initial communication, look closely at how you can handle the hiring manager and other contacts within the organisation. Pay close attention to details such as how you're addressing the person — whether it should be first name or last name basis — how you respond to any inquiries this person includes in an email, and how you follow the job-hiring instructions.
For example, if it is specified that phone calls are not welcome, don't just assume an exception will be accommodated.
Being courteous also means keeping the employer's priorities in mind. For example, if you receive an interview invitation or a job offer and you need time to think, email right back and let the employer know. This small gesture saves you from having the employer wonder if you're still interested or even if you've received the message.
Being invited to an interview or receiving a nice email from a hiring manager doesn't imply that you've become pals with the prospective coworkers. It is important to maintain a professional and courteous attitude throughout the entire process. This includes any follow up that you might make.
For example, if you've had an interview and you're sending a 'Thank you' note, make sure you still address the person appropriately, write the email in professional tone and include a mention of everyone who was on the interviewing panel. One mistake that many job candidates do is to focus on one person as the decision maker.
In reality, you may never know who the actual decision makers are in the process — and who is pulling their strings.
During your wait time in the lobby or when a person walks you to the water cooler or to the elevator, there may be opportunities for small talk. Regardless to whom you're talking to — be it the receptionist or the CEO — your tone and ability to be respectful matter. Even when you people skills are not part of your daily job, employees and hiring managers will be looking for a person who can fit nicely in a team.
A person who is easily irritable, for example, because of a delay in the interview process or gets snappy at a lower employee can present a problem in the making for the potential employer. You should always be aware of what's going on and handle yourself appropriately the second you walk into the office.
With the many different backgrounds in the UAE, it is sometimes difficult to find one common code of reference when it comes to manners and etiquette. If new to the region and unsure of how to handle a particular situation, it makes sense to research and ask ahead of the interview.
Maintaining a professional attitude can be the safest route regardless to who is interviewing you. In many cases, if you appear to be trying too hard to accommodate a different culture, you may appear a phoney or stereotyping the person. That is why go with the commonly known recommendations on maintaining eye contact, solid handshakes and a positive attitude.
How would you like to be remembered?
Source: Rania Oteify, Special to Gulf News
The writer - a former Gulf News Business Features Editor, is a Seattle-based editor