Can I Wear Chucks to an Interview?

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CM interviewed Alexandra Kovach, a professional etiquette coach who had some interesting advice about college-aged etiquette, and how new technology – like texting and social networking – have made juggling the professional and personal relationship much harder than ever.

One of the hardest things college students suffer through is an interview, whether it’s for jobs or for graduate school.

“It’s clear that students have much more competitive resumes than they did several years ago. There are kids graduating from high school with several internships on their resumes. But one area where students aren’t spending enough time is prepping for interviews. Interviews are the differentiating factor, the thing that makes you get the job over someone who might have better credentials simply because you seem more professional and personable.”

Kovach notes that anyone interviewing you is no longer focusing on your credentials–they called you for an interview because they were impressed by your resume. Instead, they’re looking at your personality, social skills and professionalism. After all, YOU are going to be representing this company or this particular school. They don’t want you to make them look badly, and the interview is how they decide this about you.

Here are Kovach’s top 3 tips for interviews:

1. Nobody wants to shake hands with a dead body. First impressions count, whether it’s showing up 15 minutes late because of “traffic” or not having eye contact and a proper handshake. Little things like that may not matter to our generation as much, but with old generations these are deciding factors in your interview.

2. Turn off the phone, leave the iPad at home. Unless you are applying to a tech company, the interview should just be you and your interviewer(s). Handing them your resume on an iPad will more likely irritate them than impress them. Older generations already assume we are all tech savvy, so no need to bring anything else into the equation. And if your phone beeps from a new BBM during the interview, you might as well pull out your phone and respond because it’s as equally distracting.

3. Etiquette is not just about you. Being aware of how you carry yourself is key, but reading the situation and others’ reactions is the other half. If your interviewer looks bored because you have been droning on about the baby you saved from a burning house, it’s your job to notice this and adjust the conversation accordingly. This will be the ultimate test of your etiquette skills. If you master this, you’ll be light years ahead of the competition.

And no, you cannot wear Chucks to an interview.

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