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Lunchtime reading for HR professionals and recruitment agencies

12 Office Etiquette Rules Every Intern Needs To Know

Posted by Dominic Ogden on 25/05/15 10:00

Here at Hiring Hub, we like to think we’re pretty good when it comes to office etiquette. So, naturally, we thought it we’d share our insights with you.

Office etiquette is all about balance: the balance between work (getting stuff done), mindfulness, respect, and – just as importantly – fun.

By understanding and employing the following office etiquette rules you’ll soon become the dogs ‘dangly bits’ around the office.

So, without further ado let’s get started…

1. Dress appropriately

Clearly, this depends on your workplace entirely and, in some ways, you can over dress. If everyone is dressed in a smart casual, shirt-and-jeans kind of vibe you don’t need to rock up wearing your Sunday best. If you have an important meeting, maybe, but on your average work day it’s better to match what the people around you wear. That said, we’d err on the side of dressing up, rather than down; just don’t need to go over the top.

2. Do your job

Sounds obvious this, but you’d be surprised. Never just do the bare minimum. The bare minimum will not make you valuable to your colleagues, or your boss. There’s no need to suck up, but offer help, come up with new ideas, find better ways of doing things. Don’t just drop everything at lunch for an hour, every day because it says you can in your employment contract. As Harvey Specter said in SUITS:

Interns - how to meet behaviour expectations

3. Tame your tech

No one wants to hear Uptown Funk blasting from your phone every time you get a mildly important phone call or WhatsApp notification. If you’ve never heard of silent, vibrate, or ‘airplane mode’ you have now, so use it… If you insist on having a ring tone, keep it professional and quiet, and you’re on your way to being liked around the place.

4. Learn names

I cannot stress this enough – learn everyone’s name. EVERYONE. Your peers, colleagues, clients, clients’ wife, children, whoever. Remember them all AND use them. Regularly. People love being addressed by their name (I’m Dom, for the record). It makes them feel valued, helps you build rapport quickly and develop a relationship with them.

5. DON’T ask about a colleague’s personal medical appointment

Is Neil from sales is nipping out at 10:45am? If it’s a medical appointment, you don’t need to know the details, so don’t ask. Give them space. Seriously, if they want you to know they will tell you. You don’t need to investigate. Unless, of course, you want to: a) Invade their privacy and open yourself up to a whole new level of awkwardness; or b) Want to know in great detail about Sue from HR’s fungal nail infection. Didn’t think so.

6. Be present. Be interested.

There’s nothing worse than the colleague (or boss) who asks a question because she feels like she should feign interest in your life, but then switched off when you answer. Take time to get to know your work colleagues – you spend 40-hours a week with them – and treat them with respect. Take interest in their lives, make eye contact when they speak to you, ask questions and, importantly, listen.

7. De-clutter

Keep your desk and communal areas tidy. Is that really too much to ask? Just do it.

8. Know when to be quiet

This is a big one. Everyone loves a chat every now and again, but you don’t want to become known as the person who just doesn’t give it a rest. It can get annoying (And if you don’t think so, maybe you’re that person.)

Behaviour expectations of an intern

9. Don’t steal supplies

Pens, sticky notes, paper, staplers, batteries, teabags, 50-inch LCD TVs – don’t steal them. Colleagues can get strangely defensive when it comes to their stationery. If you need anything, ask, but don’t just help yourself.

10. Don’t steal ideas

Just like stationery, ideas have owners, and if you steal them and attempt to claim them for your own you’re going to be ‘that guy’. And nobody likes ‘that guy.’

11. Respect your colleagues’ territory

Humans are territorial creatures. It’s innate. So when you sit on the edge of someone’s desk, get too close, rummage through the papers on their desk, IT’S ANNOYING. Don’t do it. Given them space, and respect their space.

12. Wee in the toilet (not on it)

We could write a completely separate blog on toilet etiquette at work but, in short, don’t do anything in the office toilet that you wouldn’t do at home. Don’t wee on the floor at home? Cool. Don’t wee on the floor at work. Simple. Oh, and wash your hands. Thoroughly.

There’s more (if the printer runs out of ink, replace the toner. Mugs piling up in the sink? Clean them) it’s the little things like this that earn you respect and make your life at work, and the life of those around you, immeasurably more enjoyable.

So go on, get to the office and show everyone what you’ve learnt. But don’t come across as a know it all, as no one likes those either.

Examples of really hard interview questions to  ask

Topics: Apprenticeships, Interns

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