Practical Etiquette: Best Worst Interviews

Over a lunch of Pad Thai and green curry, my colleagues and I were sharing stories of some of the best and worst interviews we had experienced. While each of us had a story or two to tell, Beth quickly had us laughing the hardest as she described some of the 20+ interviews she had conducted over the past two years without a single employable candidate.

Beth is a former competitive gymnast with a fun-loving personality who enjoys paddle boarding, cycling and whiskey. She is also a director and an experienced actuary at our firm. Her blend of professionalism and adventurous spirit makes her not only a fun colleague but an ideal, well-balanced manager. And yet, she has found it nearly impossible to find highly qualified candidates to join her team. These young actuary students have admirable academic accomplishments, yet they have consistently shown a lack in the social maturity.

Among Beth’s many stories, the following two are receiving my vote for the best interview faux pas:

Wake-Up Call

Beth called one candidate at the pre-appointed time (4 PM), and the young man drowsily answered the phone with a drawling “hello.” Clearly, he had just woken up. After introducing herself and reminding the young man that they had an interview scheduled for that time, he asked if they could reschedule for another time. Beth quickly responded that a reschedule would not be necessary.

Meet The Parents

Another recent college graduate had an in-person interview at our office, and he showed up to the interview with his parents. Beth took him into the conference room while his parents waited on the other side of the glass doors in the reception area, watching the entire interview. Beth kindly told him that this was not going to be a good job fit for him, and she recommended that he reconsider bringing his parents to the next interview.

If nothing else, these somewhat mistakes should encourage future interviewees that with a little bit of awareness and preparation, making a good first impression is fairly simple.

Without further ado, here are four easy steps to PREP for your transition from college into the business and professional world:

Phone Etiquette:

Take the time to practice effective communication on the phone and prepare with a friend to answer some of the more common interview questions. Texting has replaced a lot of our phone conversations, resulting in respondents sounded like unprepared teenagers rather than serious job applicants.


Moving from college into the working world means shifting from being at the top of the class to being the new kid on the block. The interviewers are observing attitudes to see if you will collaborate on a team, showing respect for the expertise and experience of others.


Employers want applicants to have job experience, not just education and passed exams. During the school year or in the summer, seek out opportunities for relevant internships.


Arrive to interviews well-groomed, on time, appropriately dressed, mentally prepared… and without your parents.

For more information on building your career through Best Etiquette , follow us on Twitter  @bestetiquette or send us your etiquette questions.


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