Center for Experiential Learning and Career Services

Business Etiquette

Appropriate professional behavior is very important and can often determine whether or not you get the job. The atmosphere in the corporate job world is so much different from that in typical college jobs; once you’re hired after college, you’re expected to know how to dress and act. According to company recruiters and hiring managers nationwide, proper etiquette among students they’ve interviewed is sorely lacking. Companies not only want strong academic credentials and solid leadership skills, they’re also insisting on excellent interpersonal skills and etiquette is considered a component of those skills. Employers can afford to be very choosy in who they hire due to the challenging job market, so get a head start on the competition. 

Scrutinize your writing - Proofread and edit your resume/cover letters, even your e-mail correspondence.

Dress appropriately for each company and industry - Be aware of dress requirements for each company; dressing professionally will help you develop self-confidence as well as gain the confidence of others. 

Show genuine enthusiasm - Be natural; people respond well to this. Get excited about the job you’re interviewing for - express interest. 

Be patient - Not everything that is faster is necessarily better; learn to differentiate between being appropriately persistent and immaturely impatient. 

Watch what you say and how long you take to say it - This ranges from how you address others to avoiding slang expressions such as, “you know” or “like”; an intelligent response to an interview question should be between 2 and 6 sentences, not 6 paragraphs or 6 words. 

Learn to listen - Listening is an essential tool for several reasons: by listening to others, you flatter them by showing that what they’re saying is important; also, by listening you’re learning and increasing your chances of succeeding - how will you understand what your responsibilities are if you’re not listening? 

Always be ready to demonstrate what you can do to help - It is your job to know what you can do; emphasize what you can do for the company, not what the company can do for you. 

Know how to eat properly – Proper table manners are expected. (Also check out Dining Etiquette)

Be on time - Timeliness is a must; plan to leave and extra 10 minutes earlier than normal; timeliness contributes to your chances of success. 

Adopt a friendly attitude - Believe in yourself; smiling is never out of style! Be remembered as a nice person who appears happy, relaxed, and interested in others and easy with which to work. Etiquette involves concentrating on being polite, warm, and friendly and being graceful with your body. 

(Excerpts taken from Wall Street Journal’s National Business Employment Weekly) 

Once employed, to project a professional image and to be successful in the world of business, proper etiquette must continue, which can cover everything from showing respect to your colleagues and bosses to actually cultivating clients and closing business deals. Given the number of companies that conduct business at a global level, it is essential that you also have an awareness that protocol varies from one culture to another. 

Educate yourself in learning the appropriate behaviors and etiquette for the following business situations:




Male/Female Interactions


Cell Phones

Non-Verbal Cues

Gift Giving


Verbal/Written communication

Hand Gestures

Use of Slang

Last Updated: 6/26/15