Should You Still Abide by These 4 'Old-Fashioned' Interview Rules?
Updated: Sep 30
Some rules are meant to be broken, but is it really the right time to be a rebel when you’re looking for a new job? The world has changed, and this is especially true in the workplace. Current work practices and cultures may have seemed unimaginable to people just a few decades ago. The old rules of work don’t apply anymore - or do they?
If you’re hunting for a new opportunity after spending quite a bit of time with the same company, you may wonder if your old interviewing strategies are completely out of date. Even new graduates may be in this position, especially if they’ve been coached by parents or well-meaning mentors who haven’t been in the job market for a while.
Let’s take a look at the “old-fashioned” interview rules and whether or not they still hold weight in the modern workplace.
Dress formally, no matter what job you’re interviewing for
Years ago, it might have seemed unfathomable to walk into a Fortune 500 company to interview for a managerial position in anything but formal business attire. Is this still the case?
Short answer: It depends.
Some companies still have a strict dress code that calls for a suit and tie for men and similarly professional attire for women. In this case, you’ll want to put your best foot forward at the interview and respect the company culture by dressing similarly.
Things can get a little trickier when you’re interviewing somewhere with a casual dress code or, as is becoming more and more popular at tech companies, no dress code at all. Walking into a hiring manager’s office in jeans may mean you look like you belong, but could send the impression that you don’t care enough. If your interview is taking place at a casual startup or bigger brand that’s thrown out the traditional dress code, you may want to strike a balance.
Don’t wear a T-shirt, but you can probably leave the tie at home. Looking overly formal may send the message that you’re unable to mesh with company culture, particularly in a more relaxed, I.T. environment.
If you’re unsure about what the typical dress code looks like, ask. Your recruiter should have some insight on what his or her hiring managers expect candidates to look like and provide you with guidance.
Print out your resume on resume paper and bring several copies with you
We're usually told to bring multiple copies of our resume (on resume paper, of course) to every interview we attend.
This advice still holds true.
Of course, anyone interviewing you will likely have seen a copy of your resume before the interview. Chances are, they’ll have a printed or digital copy already in front of them.
Regardless, it’s helpful to have a copy on hand in case someone forgets to grab their printout or their iPad runs out of battery mid-interview. And having physical copies with you doesn’t just help in case an interviewer forgets hers. It also gives the impression that you're organized and prepared; attributes you always want to embody when you’re trying to impress a potential employer.
Have a firm handshake
This is one piece of advice that absolutely stands the test of time and doesn’t require much updating. A strong handshake isn’t just nice to have - it’s essential to making a good impression.
A survey from CareerBuilder showed that 22% of hiring managers said the top body language mistake candidates make is a weak handshake. Keep this in mind, but don’t overcompensate with a death grip the next time you’re introduced to someone at an interview. The survey also indicated that 7% of hiring managers perceived an overwhelmingly strong handshake as a negative.
Never talk about compensation
It shouldn't be the first thing you discuss, but it’s no longer completely taboo to discuss money during interviews. More and more often, hiring managers are asking about compensation expectations earlier in the interview process. A best practice is to wait until your recruiter asks you and have confidence it'll come up sooner rather than later.
This is a great trend for everyone involved. If a role doesn’t meet your pay requirements, you can graciously bow out without having wasted too much of your, or the hiring manager's, time. Most tech companies now require that candidates complete phone and/or video screenings, all-day or half-day interviews, coding tests, personality assessments, and more. Getting over the compensation hurdle at an early stage is beneficial for both the candidate and the employer alike.
If you’re not asked directly about compensation expectations, connect with your recruiter. He or she should be able to provide a range that will let you know if the role is one worth pursuing. Open communication is critical as, even if this particular role isn't the perfect fit, they may know of another.
Modern-day work culture has changed so much and certain interviewing strategies have as well. By knowing what to do (and what not to do) next time you step into a hiring manager’s office, you set yourself up for a more successful job hunt!
About the Company:
Peterson Technology Partners (PTP) has been Chicago's premier I.T. staffing, consulting, and recruiting firm for over 20+ years. Named after Chicago's historic Peterson Avenue, PTP has built its reputation by developing lasting relationships, leading digital transformation, and inspiring technical innovation throughout Chicagoland. Now based in Park Ridge, IL, PTP's 250+ employees have narrowed their focus to a single market (Chicago) and 4 core technical areas;
Application/mobile/web development and eCommerce
Data science/analytics/business intelligence/artificial intelligence
ERP SAP/Oracle and project management/BA/QA
PTP exists to ensure that all of our partners (clients and candidates alike) make the best hiring and career decisions.
Peterson Technology Partners is an equal opportunity employer.