An Up-to-Date Guide on Interview Etiquette

4 minute read

Do you know what’s expected of you in a charity sector interview? Whilst most of the obvious rules still apply, some behaviours that used to be seen as standard interview etiquette are no longer strictly applicable.

In the past decade, interviews and workplace culture have changed significantly. Video interviews have become much more popular in the last few years, especially for the first round, and more than a third of organisations now allow employees to work from home at least a few days a week.

We’ll walk you through some of the basics in current interview etiquette.


Do your research

Making sure that you take the time to thoroughly research the organisation and its competitors will put you at a great advantage in the interview. Especially in the charity sector, organisations are looking for someone who’s passionate about the work they do and understands how their organisation operates.



When you’re nervous and under pressure, you may find that you stumble over your words more and struggle to remember things that you had no trouble recalling before. This is why it’s best to have a few examples prepared in advance for each of the most common interview questions.

If you’re really nervous, it can be tempting to go too far with this and memorise answers word-for-word. But this doesn’t allow for any flexibility and will sound rehearsed. Instead, find a structure for answering questions that works well for you and familiarise yourself with it. Then you can call on this when answering questions in the interview.

grab cv during phone interview

Act professionally

It’s completely normal to feel nervous before an interview; it shows that you care about the job you’re applying for. With that said, don’t let your nerves make you panic and stop you from coming across as confident.

Check your posture, and make sure your arms aren’t crossed as this can make you seem closed off and defensive. If your interview is in person, firmly shake hands with your interviewers and make eye contact as often as you can. If it’s over a video call, make sure you have your camera switched on and are looking at it.

Some people find that they think best when they can fidget. If you do this, make sure it’s discreet so that it isn’t distracting the interviewers and drawing attention away from what you’re saying.

Turn off your phone so that it doesn’t buzz or make a noise. Even if the interviewers can’t hear this, it could throw you off your train of thought. If you’re on a video call, try to sit somewhere where you won’t be disturbed. Sometimes, despite your best efforts, you can’t control everything in your environment. To deal with this you could consider investing in a headset that filters out background noise.


Dress appropriately

Another important part of interview etiquette is how you dress. Even if the organisation doesn’t have a dress code, it’s best to be safe and wear smart clothes. You can’t make a bad impression by dressing too smartly, but you can by dressing too informally, so it’s always better to be cautious.

On a video call, it can be tempting to think that dress code doesn’t matter, but the interviewers can still tell what you’re wearing. You don’t have to go all out, but putting on a shirt or smart top shows that you’ve put some effort in and prepared for the interview in advance.

job hunting myths debunked

Be on time

If your interview is in person, making sure you’re on time (ideally a few minutes early) will send a good impression, but it also gives you time to get your thoughts together. Rushing and stressing about being late will not leave you in a good frame of mind once you get to the interview. Plus, getting there early allows you to get a feel for the organisation and the office layout.

Sometimes, even with the best of planning, things will occur to make you late. If this happens, don’t panic. Inform your contact as soon as you know you’re going to be late and tell them what time you expect to be there.

For video calls, it’s important to test your tech in advance. Perhaps you could set up a test call with a friend or family member to check that your sound, video and Wi-Fi quality are good.

When you’ve spent time on an application, you expect to hear back about whether you were successful or not. So it’s reasonable to suggest that when recruiters have spent time reading through your application and scheduling an interview, they’ll expect to hear back from you.

If you need to reschedule or cancel the interview, it’s good interview etiquette to let your contact know well in advance. Not only is it the most respectful thing to do, but it could also harm your future chances of getting a job with that organisation if you don’t.


Ask questions

Most recruiters will expect you to have some questions for them at the end of the interview. Depending on what you ask, you can impress them and leave a great lasting impression of yourself as an applicant.

It’s best not to bring up salary until it’s mentioned by the interviewers. In reality, salary will always be an important aspect of any job, but you don’t want recruiters to think it’s your main motivation above passion for the cause.

Find a career with meaning

Don’t forget to say thanks!

This is an important step in post-interview etiquette. It’s always good practice to thank your interviewers for their time in a follow up email shortly after the end of the interview. This doesn’t have to be long or in-depth―it’s probably better if you don’t go too far or it could come across as if you’re trying to win the recruiters over.


Workplace culture may have changed over the past few years, but knowing the basics of interview etiquette is still important if you want to make a good first impression with recruiters. Thankfully, it doesn’t take much extra effort to make yourself stand out as someone who’s organised, passionate and knows what they’re talking about!

Could the perfect job for you be out there right now? Find out by searching on CharityJob today.


You might also like...