Etiquette tips for the British interview room

Are you a non-British national looking for a job in the UK? Landing an interview for your dream job is just the beginning of the journey. As expected, you’ll need to impress the hiring manager with your relevant skills, personality traits, and experience. But did you know that you’ll also need to demonstrate your knowledge of British business etiquette?


If you haven’t worked in the UK before, you’ll have to familiarise yourself with British business protocol. To help you prepare this vital aspect of your interview technique, please read our expert tips below.

  1. Be punctual

Arriving late to a business meeting is viewed as careless and disrespectful. So plan your journey to arrive at your destination 20 minutes early to allow for any unforeseen circumstances. If your interview is online, test your connection and technology a good ten minutes before the meeting starts.


  1. Dress formally

The dress code for job interviews in the UK is typically smart or business formal. This sends a clear message to your interviewer that you’re a serious and professional candidate. This rule applies even when the company culture is relaxed and employees dress casually. So err on the side of formality with your wardrobe choices. Jeans, t-shirts, crop tops, and trainers are definite no-nos.


  1. Add warmth and a handshake to your introduction!

When you introduce yourself, make eye contact and smile warmly. You want to give everyone you meet (real or virtual) the impression that you are approachable and professional. Offer your interviewer a firm (not hand-crushing) handshake that lasts for a few seconds. No kisses, please!

Even the most formal interviewers will address you using your first name these days. If in any doubt, wait to see how they address you before following their example.


  1. Don’t touch your interviewer!

Be careful not to invade your interviewer’s personal space. In the UK, many people feel uncomfortable with tactile gestures until they know someone well.


  1. Body language

Sit up straight and maintain eye contact to communicate that you are open and honest. Avoid fidgeting which has the opposite effect. Show enthusiasm for the position and the company by smiling and nodding at appropriate moments.


  1. Conversation

The interview will likely begin with some small talk and, yes, British people love talking about the weather! Respond in a polite, friendly manner.

Show interest in your interviewer by asking questions about his/her day but don’t comment on anything personal, e.g., their appearance. Steer clear of politics, religion, and sex in your choice of topics! Bad-mouthing former colleagues is an equally bad idea.

Offer concise answers to the interview questions, taking the opportunity to highlight your relevant skills and experience. Asking questions that show that you’ve researched the company is a good way to underline your genuine interest.


  1. Send a thank you note

Not all British people follow up with a thank you note to their interviewers but this gesture is considered excellent manners. It also provides a great opportunity to express your gratitude, remind the interviewer of your strengths and skills, and underline your enthusiasm for the position.


Observing the above guidelines will go a long way in making a positive impression on your interviewer. Combined with our advice on other aspects of interviewing*, these tips will set you up for success at interview and indeed for the duration of your working life in Britain.


For further expert tips on how to ace your UK job interviews, please get in touch. ABL is the UK’s number one multilingual recruitment agency. We have been matching high-quality job candidates to great job opportunities – and helping them to ace their interviews – for over 30 years. Please give us a call at +44 (0)20 7092 3911 or drop us a line at and we’ll be delighted to do the same for you. Expertly. Quickly. Effectively.

*You can also browse our blog or jump straight to the articles below:

Evolving rules for interview etiquette in 2022

How to answer competency-based interview questions 

Body language to be banned from the interview room immediately!

How to answer the interview question: tell me about yourself – May 2022

How to answer the interview question – what’s your biggest weakness

How to ace the interview question – ‘What’s your current salary?’ 

What to say when your interviewer asks ‘Do you have any questions?’ 

Words to avoid at job interview

10 tricky interview questions that could trip you up