After 20 years as a model, Inga Watkins began volunteering with girls at church, imparting advice about how to present themselves, including job interview techniques, attire and basic etiquette. After a year of training kids at church, she decided to take her hobby to another level. In 2006, she founded Modelquette, so that children, teens and adults can learn how to handle themselves in social and business settings.
Watkins, who characterizes etiquette as a dying art, is crusading to make it relevant again. That’s why she’s written a book about etiquette, Faux Pas to Fabulous: An Insider’s Guide to Help You Go From Making Missteps to Being Socially Savvy.
According to Watkins, etiquette is meant to put other people at ease. More than keeping your pinky up when having tea, “It’s really life skills,” Watkins maintains. “It’s how we treat others, caring about others,” she says.
Her pet peeve: People who stand in the middle of a busy walkway, making it difficult for others to get by.
In addition to having the right skill set, Watkins says your presentation is key; that means a resume and cover letter without typos, then presenting yourself correctly once you get the interview.
- Sit up tall in your chair, and maintain eye contact.
- What are you wearing? How do you look? What is your demeanor like? You should be positive and energetic.
- Elaborate when asked a question, and have some intelligent questions of your own for the interviewer.
- Dress up, even if the company atmosphere is casual. “We are influenced by what we see, so it’s important to have a pulled-together look,” Watkins advises. “It should look like you put time and attention into how you dressed,” she suggests.
- A side note: Dress for the job you want within the company, not the job you have.
- Finally: Don’t forget to send a handwritten thank-you note after the interview. Briefly recap your skills and let the interviewer know you are interested in the position.
Once you get the job, be sure to maintain a professional attitude. You’re there to do a job and get work done. You aren’t there to surf the internet during business hours, talk on the phone with friends or send jokes and nonsense to co-workers via email.