Webster’s dictionary defines professionalism as: the skill, good judgment, and polite behavior that is expected from a person who is trained to do a job well.

Good judgment with regard to your company’s specific product or service is easy to train – good judgment in general, however, is something that it takes years to master – usually from our childhood. It is this general judgment that is fairly easy to spot, test, and interview for before offering an applicant a position with your company.

Professionalism in Hiring

Experience.com recommends several things to look for when meeting and interviewing applicants for the first time – each item is a measure of professionalism when an applicant is expected to be at their best.

  1. Dress

    Does the employee dress appropriately for the interview? Are there any glaring flaws (food on mouth/teeth, spots on tie, buttons unbuttoned) that should have been caught by a quick glance in the mirror?
     
  2. Smiling

    Interviews are generally a serious business, but a smile should be the first thing to touch a person’s mouth once the interviewer walks up and introduces herself. Your clients love to see your employees smile as well – this is important for your overall company image.
     
  3. Punctuality

    This should go without saying – tardy to an interview = tardy to work and tardy in responding to clients.
     
  4. The Handshake

    Unless you are male and your applicant a female, the handshake should be firm – this does not mean a strong, vice-like grip, but you should receive more than just a hand out which you squeeze and get nothing in return.
     
  5. Usage of Name and other Facts

    It is a fact of psychology that people like to hear their name spoken by others in a polite and friendly manner. This is a technique that is useful for passing onto current employees as well – when speaking with the client, make it a point to use their name appropriately at least once beyond the initial greeting. Another mark of professionalism is the recitation of pertinent facts or recall about the company and its status.
     
  6. Appropriate Conversation

    Part of the lifetime growth in judgment includes knowing when to speak and when not to speak of certain things. Employees who engage in crude or tasteless remarks or jokes during an interview will probably struggle to rise to an appropriate level of professionalism in your office and when interacting with your clients
     
  7. Cell Phone/Pager Interruptions

    Professionalism means remembering to silence your electronics before going into that critical proposal meeting or interview.
     
  8. Follow-up

    Hiring managers should expect a follow-up card or letter or e-mail at the very least. It is an extra, added touch that suggests the prospective applicant is serious in their professionalism.
     

There is a level of business etiquette that is different for every company, it is important to establish protocols and guidelines with employees early on so that they understand what is expected from them in their dealings with you, their coworkers and your customers!