There’s just so much to do in the job search – when you’re trying to update and edit your resume, browse jobs, research companies, request references, and find the right opportunity that meets all of your needs – boundaries are probably the last thing on your mind. However, understanding and honoring boundaries is important to your success in the job search and beyond. Read this before your next interview to help you get a clear understanding of boundaries that you may encounter in the process:
Observe the Rules
When you visit any place of business, it’s likely that you will encounter a variety of signage – including things such as where to park, where you can wait, whether cell phones are allowed, or warning what areas are off-limits to non-employees. These are all clear boundaries that have been set by the company, and it is very important to observe them. By respecting these boundaries, you are demonstrating that you are both observant and willing to follow the rules – two qualities that all employers like to see in potential employees.
Respect Personal Space
It is important to recognize that people have varying levels of comfort when it comes to physical space, and if you don’t know someone well enough to know what their level of comfort is, it’s best to err on the side of caution. A handshake is perfectly acceptable, but don’t assume that someone is comfortable with a touch on the arm or pat on the shoulder. Keep in mind that respecting spatial boundaries doesn’t just mean avoiding direct touching – it can also mean not hovering or talking too closely, leaning over their desk, or fidgeting with their personal belongings. Being mindful of personal space in this way ensures a comfortable experience for all, allowing your interviewer’s focus to remain right where you want it – on the qualities that make you a great fit for the job!
There’s no need for an interview to be an uncomfortable experience; it’s an excellent opportunity for both the company and applicant to determine if they can be successful together. However, don’t let yourself get too comfortable and cross professional boundaries by divulging excessive personal information. Even if you’ve built a good rapport with your interviewer, sharing personal stories that aren’t relevant to the job has the potential to create some unnecessary awkward moments, or worse, create doubts about your professionalism. To have a great interview and enhance your chances of success, it’s important to understand the balance between friendliness and professionalism; be friendly with your interviewer, but know that intimate details about your life are best saved for conversations with your friends.
Be Respectful of Other People’s Time
Of course, you want to be respectful of your interviewer’s time by showing up prepared and on time for your scheduled appointment. However, you might not have realized that being respectful of an employer’s time also applies to not overextending your visit. You don’t need to hustle out of there as fast as you can- by all means, ask questions about the job and company, and get the information you need to make an informed decision about your employment. However, once both you and the company are done discussing the job, it’s time to start making your exit. It’s not that you’re not welcome – employers enjoy meeting and getting to know people who are interested in being part of their team – but most places of business have tight schedules to abide by, so each appointment can only be allotted so much time. Pay attention to the conversation and to your interviewer’s cues – when it feels like the conversation is coming to a natural close and the employer thanks you for time, stands up, or otherwise indicates that they have other things to take care of, it is time to go. Thank them for their time and let them know you are looking forward to hearing back from them about the position.
These are some very basic ways to demonstrate you are capable of respecting professional and personal boundaries, and following these tips will help you be successful in any setting.