Interview Manners

Published: Mar 10, 2009

Vault.com's Recruiting expert, Eileen Levitt, weighs in with some answers to frequently asked questions.

Q: When is it appropriate for candidates to bring up salary and benefits - and how? When is the right time?

Eileen: Generally, the employer will ask about previous compensation and provide the candidate with a benefits overview. If not, I would ask for a benefits summary at the end of second interview. In terms of compensation, it is best to wait to bring it up until asked. However, if it has not been brought up, you can discuss it with a manager or HR person at the end of the second interview by simply saying ," I am very interested in your company and the position that has been presented. What is the salary range and may I take away some information on your benefits?" For executive level positions, I would wait until you are asked about compensation, and for fear of seeming too small-minded, I would not even bring up a discussion of the standard benefits until an offer is made. At that point, you'll have much greater latitude to negotiate if the benefits are disappointing.

Q: If you're running late for an interview, is it better to reschedule or do the interview late?

Eileen: First, it is best to plan not to be late. If possible, scope out where you are going ahead of time to ensure you know where you are going. Second, if you know you are going to be late, call, let the interviewer know that you are running late and why, then ask the interviewer if it would be better to reschedule.

Q: What do I do if I have a terrible interview and want to try again with a different interviewer?

Eileen: Depending on the circumstances, I think it might be best to write a letter, or call the person that you interviewed with. Tell the interviewer that you were having a bad day, etc. and ask if you could come back in again.

I don't think it is wise to ask for an interview with someone else. It might seem like you are going around the first person. In addition, if you are really interested in the company, and do eventually go to work there, you will be working with that first person, so you need to smooth things out before you talk to others.

Q: Is it necessary to reconfirm an interview? Who is the person to confirm - the interviewer or interviewee?

Eileen: It is always a courtesy to confirm interviews. That goes for both the interviewer and interviewee. But it is not necessary.

Q: With the new business casual dress populating the workplace, what's considered appropriate attire for an interview?

Eileen: For both men and women, a nice suit is still always the best bet. Make sure it's pressed!

Q: What's the best way to turn down an offer - in person, by phone, leaving a message, by letter, e-mail?

Eileen: If you are at the point of receiving an offer, that means that you have spent a lot of time with the company. You owe it to them to call.

Q: Is it necessary for a candidate to give a reason why they're turning down an offer?

Eileen: No,it isn't necessary. But it is polite.

Q: What's the appropriate time frame for an offer or rejection? Should employers always provide a rejection letter?

Eileen: Traditionally, the right thing to do is to get back within 6 weeks. However, a word of caution for employers: if you wait 6 weeks, chances are that the candidate has moved on and accepted another company's offer!

Q: Should companies send a rejection letter?

Eileen: Yes. E-mail is not an acceptable substitute.

Q: Is there a limit on the amount of time an interviewer should leave an interviewee waiting?

Eileen: Unless there are serious extenuating circumstances, no more than 15 minutes. After that, it is just plain rude, and the interviewee may wish to reschedule.