Job Search Etiquette

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by Adeodata Czink and Karen Shane

When in Rome, do as the Romans do, that’s how the saying goes.

You don’t want to go against your core beliefs, nor against your religion, but it would be good if you were aware of Canadian manners, so that you can make a better impression.


In Canada, the policy is to book appointments and not just show up. In some countries, dropping in is quite all right. We tend to confirm appointments the day before.

Before you go to an interview, review the organization’s website.

Be there on time. If you are running late, call. Also indicate how late you think you will be. Ask if they want to reschedule.

When arriving, have with you the material you need for that meeting.

You might have sent a professional resume and cover letter earlier on, but do take two or three good crisp copies of your resume with you, just in case there are several interviewers.

Look prepared.

Greet with a firm handshake; a soft handshake for a Canadian translates to you being weak. Look the person in the eye and say “How do you do”, “Pleased to meet you” is your second best bet.

Introduce yourself with your full name, not just your first name.

Be prepared to spell your name.

Make sure you have a business card ready to give. Present it with your right hand towards the person receiving the card. If you come from a country that presents it with both hands, do keep your style.

Don’t sit down until you are offered a seat. Once you sit, don’t fidget. Have a position you can hold comfortably.

In Canada, it’s quite all right to say “no thank you” when coffee is offered. Some countries that would be considered an insult. Not here. Here it just means that you have already had enough coffee for the moment.

What to wear:

Wear what the job requires. If you are going to be a construction worker, don’t come in a suit and tie, because they can’t see you as a construction worker. If you are looking for a suit and tie job, don’t come in jeans. Dress conservatively: perfect grooming, clean shoes, no run in your nylons, clean nails, hair out of the face, facial hair either very well kept or none, and a good haircut. No perfume unless you’re applying to a cosmetics firm, and for the men, please doesn’t wear an overbearing shaving lotion.

Coordinate your colours. Ladies with lipstick, nail polish, and clothing should make sure that there are not three different shades of red, for example. Men, choose a coat that blends and fits in with your suit, a three quarter length one is appropriate – if seeking an office related position.

Don’t chew gum during the interview.

Be ready to answer questions. Wait until the interviewer finishes asking the question, then speak.

Some sample questions:

  • Why do you want to work here?
  • What can you do for us that somebody else can’t?

The interviewer may ask if you have any questions about the job. Be prepared to ask at least one; for example, Will I be working as part of a team? Or, When can I start? It’s a good idea to ask for a business card from the interviewee.

At the end of the interview, shake hands again and say thank you for the opportunity to meet with them.

Remember to send a thank you letter within 24 hours, following the interview.

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