Is it worth switching to “You” during a job interview?

"Is it worth switching to "You" during a job interview?"

The candidate nervously taps their foot on the floor. Thoughts swirl in their head. Will they make a good impression? What if they say something inappropriate that ruins their chances of getting the job? The clock’s hand moves inexorably closer to the appointed hour. The candidate becomes increasingly nervous. What should the recruiter do to ease the tension? Switching to “You” seems like a suitable solution. Or does it? Perhaps the candidate should propose a more direct form? Is it worth getting closer to the interviewer in this way? We have decided to take a closer look at this issue.

Who suggests switching to “You”?

The rules of etiquette dictate when to switch to “You.” According to proper manners, the more direct form of addressing each other should be proposed by older individuals to younger ones or by women to men. How can this principle be applied to business? It is customary for the switch to “You” to be initiated by a boss, higher-level employees in relation to those in lower positions, or a client in relation to a service provider. Unfortunately, in today’s open, equality-promoting market, few adhere to the once-popular principles of chivalry. Today, the focus is on reducing distance and building friendly relationships, even in a professional context. An informal approach to business relationships is becoming the standard. Employees are increasingly addressing their bosses by their first names, and they go out with managers or team leaders. Can this principle be applied in job interviews?

A good practice is for the recruiter, potential employer, or another person responsible for recruitment to take the initiative to use the more direct form in their mutual communication. Another rule states that in a job interview situation, the switch to “You” should be proposed by the higher-ranking person. So, if a high-level manager is applying for a job, and the meeting is conducted by a recruitment specialist, as a rule, the former has the privilege of proposing a more informal form of addressing each other.

Is switching to “You” a good idea?

Taking the initiative to use first names in communication by the recruiter can bring many benefits. Such a proposal primarily relaxes the atmosphere at the meeting and reduces stress for the candidates. The person interested in employment will feel more at ease and gain confidence. This will undoubtedly make the conversation easier and allow them to present themselves in the best possible light. Proposing to switch to “You” for the candidate can therefore increase their chances of being hired.

Addressing each other by first names creates positive relationships between potential employees and employers right from the start. This can translate into good relations in the future, which will positively impact their cooperation.

Switching to “You” reduces the distance, relaxes the tension, and makes the conversation friendly and collaborative. So, what are the benefits of sticking to the formal form of addressing each other?

Switching to "You"

Or is it better to stick with “Mr. / Ms.”?

A job interview is usually the first official meeting between a candidate and a recruiter, potential employer, or another person responsible for the recruitment process. The meeting is often preceded by only a short phone conversation or the exchange of a few emails. Addressing each other as “Mr. / Ms.” is a manifestation of courtesy and mutual respect. It is worth remembering that a job interview is a contact with a stranger. At the beginning of the meeting, it is impossible to determine unequivocally whether the interlocutor would not consider a direct address as tactless. Therefore, a recruiter who remains in the formal form does not expose themselves to the potential candidate’s possible outrage.

Should the candidate agree to the direct form?

It depends. In recruitment, as well as in life in general, not everything is black and white. There are many shades of gray that make many issues more complicated than they may seem at first.

It’s worth finding out in advance what the rules are in the company. If direct communication is encouraged, accepting the proposal seems like a good solution. The candidate will show that they fit perfectly with the company’s values and are on the same wavelength.

If such a situation is uncomfortable for the candidate, they don’t have to agree to it. Everything is a matter of choice, and each of us is an individual and has the right to feel and behave according to our own rules (of course, as long as it doesn’t harm others).

What if the candidate proposes switching to “you”?

And what about the situation when a candidate of lower rank than their interlocutor proposes switching to “you”? It depends. Many employers or recruiters will take this matter lightly – they will easily agree to use the direct form and may even see it as an attempt to ease the atmosphere and build positive relationships on the part of the candidate. Taking the initiative to switch to “you” can be a good move, especially when the recruitment concerns a sales position. In this way, you can demonstrate yourself as an open, positive, and confident person who has no problem establishing connections. These qualities are often attributed to good salespeople.

However, proposing to switch to “you” by the candidate is like walking on thin ice – it can be seen as a lack of manners. It is particularly impolite to suggest using first names by a male candidate to a female recruiter – especially if she is older and more experienced. Is it worth taking the risk and jeopardizing one’s potential career in a given company? Regardless of how well we get along with the recruiter, it’s important to behave professionally and refrain from such proposals. The job interview should be taken seriously. A candidate who approaches the meeting too casually may be perceived as cheeky, overly self-confident, and impolite. Remember that there will be time to build a more relaxed relationship with the future employer after being hired. At that point, you can focus on building strong, trust-based bonds.


A professional job interview, or recruitment etiquette

The candidate should behave professionally during the job interview. In this way, they will show respect for the potential employer and, therefore, increase their chances of employment (of course, provided that their qualifications and experience meet the requirements of the position). We already know that suggesting switching to “you” to the recruiter is an inappropriate practice, completely diverging from commonly accepted rules of etiquette. So, what behaviors are desirable? How to present oneself in the best light?

  • Punctuality. Being late for the job interview marks the candidate negatively from the start, while arriving too early can create unnecessary anxiety. Punctuality is the key to success.
  • Appropriate attire. The candidate should look impeccable. Their clothing should adhere to the company’s dress code. However, this doesn’t mean that someone applying for a construction job can come in rubber boots and a stained shirt. Neatness above all!
  • High personal etiquette. The candidate should behave and speak politely and respectfully. Talkativeness, the use of informal language, pretentious gestures, constant checking of the watch, or answering the phone can diminish the chances of getting hired.

Should you shake hands with the recruiter? It’s up to the host of the meeting. What attitude should you adopt? Comfortable but not casual. Should you turn off your phone? Absolutely. What if the recruiter offers you a drink? If you feel like it, you can accept the offer. However, it’s a good idea to ask for plain water. And finally, should you initiate switching to the informal “You”? We’ll emphasize it once again – this initiative should come from the recruiter. It’s generally not appropriate for the candidate to suggest it. Remember that!

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