"Etiquette: The manners established by convention as acceptable or required in society and business. " — Webster's New World Dictionary...

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“Etiquette: The manners established by convention as acceptable or required in society and business.”

— Webster’s New World Dictionary

Etiquette is an important concept in a civilized society: It serves as a guide to your manners and behavior, usually in social situations. But what does it have to do with a job interview? A lot, according to Robin Ryan, a Seattle-area career coach based in Newcastle, who has had her own counseling firm since 1991.

“Etiquette is an overlooked and lost art of how you should present yourself in a job interview,” said Ryan, author of “60 Seconds and You’re Hired!” (Penguin, $13).

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“It includes your appearance, your manners and your behavior — how you act during the interview.”

The career coach says having proper etiquette during that all-important meeting with a potential employer clearly is an advantage.

“Knowing what to do establishes you as a more valuable employee because the employer knows immediately that this is how you are going to project yourself to clients and others in the company.

“If you practice business etiquette, it means you know how to behave professionally — and that is an advantage.”

The first rule of etiquette, Ryan emphasizes, is “Dress up!” That doesn’t mean women have to wear white gloves and hats nor men tuxedos. Instead, the proper attire is what she calls “business formal.”

“Dress like the manager you want to be someday or even the manager above that,” Ryan said. “Your shoes should be shined, you should be clean and neat. You should be able to walk in and meet the CEO and not be embarrassed.”

Another rule: Be on time for the interview.

The next area of importance, Ryan says, is social interaction. “Practice that firm handshake with eye contact and be sure to smile,” she advised. “It sends a message of confidence. And be enthusiastic about the job!”

A final rule is sending a thank-you note, she said.

“It should be hand-written. Employers tell me when they can’t decide between two candidates and one sends a hand-written thank-you note and the other an e-mail, they choose the one who wrote a letter because it shows you’re willing to go the extra mile.”

Will following the rules guarantee you employment in a tight job market?

“I can’t say just because you do it right it means you’ll get the job,” Ryan said. “But the lack of etiquette is a reason not to hire you and to hire someone else.”

E-mail questions to Carol Kleiman at ckleiman@tribune.com. Distributed by Knight Ridder/Tribune Business News.