Conductors holding questionnaire form during the job interview, applicant's reults are excellent. Focus placed on sheet in front.

Are you being too polite in Canadian job interviews?


It’s strange for me to even write this question considering how often Canadians are teased for being too polite.

But compared to many other cultures in the world, we’re not as sweet as our reputation suggests. It’s possible to be too nice, too polite and too deferential in a Canadian job interview. Let’s consider four ways.

1)      Excessive thanking

If you get a birthday gift from a Canadian friend, it’s normal to say “thank you” at the moment of opening it. Then, no more thanking. Many other cultures offer additional thanks. In Canada, there are formal occasions when we send a thank you card, such as for wedding presents. For job interviews, we often say thank you at the end of the interview then we write a thank you email within a day. Then that’s it. So once or twice, then stop. No excessive praise (“You’re the best HR rep ever!”) and no continuing thanking for the same service.

2)      Folded-in body language

I’ve seen people in job interviews make themselves incredibly small: they sit with a coat, folded in a tiny square, and purse securely stowed on their laps (thighs) while sitting on the edge of a chair. The intended message is, “I’m not threatening” but the received message is “I’m powerless.” Claim more space in your interview, hang your coat on a coat rack or over the back of your chair, or better yet, if an interviewer offers to take your coat, please let him/her. Put your purse on the floor, any note material on the table top (if there is one) and then plunk your entire bottom on the seat. Feel free to take all the space.

3)      Asking for a salary that you know is way too low

Sadly, I have heard newcomers say they would accept a lower salary purely because they are newcomers. Really? Don’t do that! In Canada, it’s the law that people get paid the same amount for doing the same work, regardless of gender, age, nationality, ethnicity, or sexual orientation. When you offer to be treated badly, it sends a message to unscrupulous employers that they can treat others badly, too. For the average employer who is following the rules and conventions, your offer indicates that you are willing to accept less-than-fair treatment. Will you behave the same when you are representing that company?

4)      Not making eye contact

In some cultures, looking into someone’s eyes is interpreted as challenging behaviour. For job interviews in some Asian situations, job applicants keep their gaze securely on the tie knot of the interviewer. That behaviour simply will not work in Canadian job interviews. For one reason, if the HR person is a woman, it will feel like you are staring at her breasts, which are located just under where the tie knot would be if she were a man. If the interviewer is a man, this still won’t work because typical Canadians like and expect people to look into their eyes. Now, you don’t have to constantly maintain eye contact. You can look down at your notes, look off to the side, look up, and take occasional breaks. But you better get your eyes back to the interviewers pretty regularly. Otherwise, an interviewer just assumes you are not listening.

Job interviews require a blend of “being yourself” and following cultural norms. These four behaviours may be limiting your chances. Adjust your “politeness”, but still “be yourself” for more success.

Gwen PawlikowskiAbout the Author:
Gwen Pawlikowski is a freelance writer and entrepreneur who has also worked as an ISSofBC employment counsellor with newcomers. She lives in New Westminster and loves the diversity of the Lower Mainland. Please click here for information on ISSofBC’s career services.


76 thoughts on “Are you being too polite in Canadian job interviews?”

  1. Thanks Gwen for sharing these tips to show more confidence and assertiveness in job interviews.
    I think to offer a right amount of salary is one of the most challengeable parts of any interview. I always try to find an average salary for the position that I want to apply for, by looking at the salaries of the same or close and relevant jobs in some websites like It’s a very effective way to talk about your expected salary rate confidently.

  2. Thank Gwen for these information.
    It is very important to know which behavior is more appropriate in each situation.
    Usually newcomers have doubts about how Canadian people think about eye contact, handshake and others body language, because the foreign cultures sometimes is very different when talking to people or having jobs interviews.
    I think is essential to know about culture and professional behavior, if you wants to be a successful professional carrier in Canada.

  3. Thank you, Gwen, for such a useful information. Currently, I’m looking for my first job in Canada and goes for interviews. I never thought about my body language or eye contact. For the future interviews, I’ll consider all these tips and I’ll try to make a good impression. I think it’s very important to be confident in the interview. When people aware of different aspects, that build confident impression, they can use it and continuously improve themselves.

  4. It’s really good to know from this blog that excessive thanking might not be necessary. It’s better to say it at the right time instead of saying it too much. Based on my experience, making eye contact is important not only in the interviews, but also in most of the occasions, it’s likely to influence the way that people think of you.
    Another thing that I would suggest is showing enthusiasm to your employers. Showing that you’re really interested in the job makes them feel that you’ll do the job well. It works for me every time.

  5. Hi, those tips are really interesting. I will focus on one of them which I tested for the first time recently: asking for a better salary!
    To my point of view, this is really important to earn the salary you deserve to earn. An interview and a salary proposition is a game between you and the employer. In business, you will always try to pay less for a product. In this case, you are the product. The employer will try to get your competences for a lower wage. To be able to sell yourself at the right price (salary), you will need to do some market research and find what is the mean salary in the industry for a similar job. Then, when you receive the job offer, you have to play and ask for more. If the employer knows that the salary he bid wasn’t fair, he will increase it. Maybe you will have an amount not as high as expected, but it will be better than nothing. Additionally, it will show your employer that you are powerful.

  6. Thank you for your useful tips. Especially the tip of “Folded-in body language” is most useful. I always tended to put my all of belongings on my laps because I was afraid of seeming arrogant by using bigger space. But indeed, interviewers got the impression that I was powerless.
    At next interview, I am using bigger space to gain interviewer’s confidence.

  7. These are very helpful tips for me. Normally in my interviews I didn’t take off my jacket or coat, because I was not knowing about taking space at interview and hanging the coat. The above mentioned four tips are very useful for me and these are very helpful for my next interview.
    I know one tip about the eye conduct, if we are talking to elder’s we can look into their eyes or to the lips. As well as if we are taking to youngster’s we can look into their eyes or to the forehead. I got this tip from my first job in India, we got an induction training, during that time the trainer share this tips to us.

  8. Thanks for very useful article. After reading this, I feel I was being too polite in my job interviews.
    I didn’t know about excessive praise and I thought I said “Thank you” two or three times. However I shouldn’t have to say several times and just one is enough.
    I’ve learned a lot from this article and also the videos about body language and how to make better eye contact. So I’m sure that I would be better in my next job interview.

  9. Thanks for sharing these tips! The second tip which indicates feel free to take all the space, not to show folded-in with your body language was very interesting for me. I remember once in an information interview, I used the empty chair beside me to put my coat and purse and I realized a blink in the eyes of the person I was interviewing for that informational interview. I guess now I know the reason behind that blink and smile; as I was thinking maybe it’s not good to take more space. Now I feel relieved!

    1. I found the article useful. In average, I know that I am prepared to follow all the tips mentioned by Gwen Pawlikowski because during the LINC course these tips plus others have been highlighted by our teacher.

      As an example of the practicability of the above-mentioned tips, last August I went for an interview to get a place in a particular course. To prepare my interview I read all the instructions learned in class. There were two ladies as interviewers. I feel very nervous. The interview lasted thirty minutes. They said to me that in case I were selected they would call me, I spent two and a half weeks waiting and finally I received a phone call. I was one of the 21 women selected. For sure my classes and the knowledge about Canadian culture helped me a lot to get the spot in the course.

  10. This article includes key points to got employed. In my country’s culture,
    offering two much praise is showing more respect, but it has been an old tradition that the elders use, but has been very hard for younger generations
    to learn and do this. Being comfortable is one of the factors to have a good life
    and excessive praise prevents from comfortable living for both the interviewer
    and the interviewee

  11. Thanks Gwen for sharing the valuable advises to us, I am a newcomer here, at the first 10 days, there was a hiring posting in Best Busy store, I filled an application form and immediately after I was interviewed, not knowing anything about Canadian’s way of interviewing , I made several mistakes in respect of hand shake and body language trying to be too polite by not taking off my coats and not looking at interviewer’s eye. I hope to act better in my next job interview.

  12. Thank you for your useful and valuable advises; It was so interesting. These information are really helpful for new comers, because of the differences in cultures we (new comers) need to learn a lot about soft skills like body language, gestures, eye contact and etc, for being successful in job interviews.
    We should learn how to look confident and powerful “IN CANADIAN WAY”. Because, what is expected in Canadian interviews is totally different from my country’s expectations.
    For example, “Being yourself” may not work in my native country; But it’s important in Canada; And it works.

  13. One of the most important points about body language is the message that you send to others by your gestures regardless of what you are thinking about or in which mood you are at that specific moment. For instance, if you are sitting in a lecture with cross arms on your chest just because you feel more comfortable in this position, the lecturer will get this message that you are defensive to him or his speech or you feel nerves. I think considering this point in our daily communications, in our personal life or in the workplace, is extremely crucial.

  14. There are very important points in this blog entry. Something that I would like to add to these points is, to show confidence when you don’t know about something technical in the interview. You could make eye contact with the interviewer and tell him or her that I can learn it very fast. Another solution is, tell the interviewer that although I’m not familiar with the technology that you have mentioned, I use this approach in these situations and tell your approach. So with these approaches, we can show our confidence to fulfil the job’s responsibilities even if we don’t have some of the required skills.

  15. Thank for your advice Gwen. In a job interview the first impressions are the most important. For example a weak handshake will signal lack of confidence, but a too-strong handshake could be interpreted as an attempt at domination. So we have to learn the body language tips and practice them to be more confident.

  16. This article is very interesting because it provides basic information on how to behave in a Canadian job interview. Personally, points 1 and 3 are the most helpful to me.
    Indeed, I tend to say thank you a lot when people are helping me because I feel very grateful. I’ve met very generous people here who did a lot for me whereas they didn’t have to do so. From now on, I’ll keep that in mind: “once or twice, no more”.
    Concerning the low salary issue, I think it’s very difficult for newcomers to be confident discussing such a thing. First, many of us face heaps of difficulties to find our first job and we are most inclined to accept unfair work conditions. Secondly, my English is obsviously not as good as a native speaker and I know that I’ll be less efficient in my job than a person who speaks English perfectly. Therfefore, I wouldn’t be confortable discussing a too low salary.

  17. I only had one job interview along with several interview for scholarship applications in Canada. I intend to agree with most part of the Gwen’s article in terms of body language and making correct and effective eye contact. Although I believe making strong eye contact needs practice with random peaple, I haven’t been able so far to practice and improve this skill of mine. Having said that, I keep trying to make eye contact with my friends and salesmen to be able to improve myself. However, I found it to be much more difficult for me to get feedback on this skill from whom I’m practicing with. Another key thing to remember is asking for higher or lower than normal salary. I liked the idea of one of the students who suggested to ask for education rather than asking for higher than normal salary.

  18. I find the comment about “thanking etiquette” pertinent and useful. It’s helpful for newcomers to know that a thank-you / follow-up email gets sent ONE DAY after the interview. Students often ask when to send this. Also, there are situations, indeed where one “thanks” is enough immediately after the event or situation itself but that a follow-up text or email show that extra gratitude if you really care about the person. P.S. Is there any way to refresh the blog comments to show only the current year? – LINC-LFE Teacher

  19. After reading the article, I think I am being too polite at two points. First, I thank too much. In Asian culture, we would keep thanking and pushing people to receive gifts or being treated. As guests, we also have to try our best to not to accept the gifts and being humble. Therefore, it happens all the time that you can see Chinese people fighting for the bills at restaurants. I have learnt that not to do too much appreciation during interview from this article. It’s good to appreciate but not too much. It will make us more professional instead of being too fake. Secondly, I was being too polite about asking the salary. I remember I did a one day free labor work at a restaurant. The manager insisted that I had to do the 5 hours trial work, and she would give me an interview after that. Basically, all I did at the trial was cleaning (cleaning washroom, wiping floor, dumping garbage…ect.), nothing related to serve customers. After that, she told me I was hired but the pay was $8/hour (non-alcohol restaurant, just a regular beef noodle restaurant). Fortunately, I didn’t take the job in the end because I knew the basic salary should be $10.25/ hour by law at that time. After reading this article, I’ve learnt that I should ask the manager to pay me what I should get. I was too afraid to ask, and also gave them a one day free cleaning. The most importantly, if I stand out and speak for myself, at the same time I am helping other newcomers. We shouldn’t let those bosses think they can take advantages of us.

  20. Thanks for your special advices, Gwen.

    ‘Excessive’ is always not so good. Sometimes it can cause a negative response.

    ‘Good body langueges’ can make a good result’

    ‘To ask about job education (on the job traing)’ is better than asking for a salary.

    ‘making eye contact’ is used by the culture of nations.

  21. I didn’t have a Canadian job interview or job experience. I have never sent a resume by email to a Canadian company. I am still afraid of job interviews in English and I don’t
    know how I answer variable questions.
    I really appreciate this article; It was very interesting and helpful for me.
    I learned some important things about job interviews from this article. Especially I realized the importance of eye contact and body language once more.
    From this article I got courage and confidence which make good impressions in job interviews. If I have a chance to get a job interview, I will keep these points in mind.

  22. I didn’t have a Canadian job interview or job experience. I have never sent a resume by email to a Canadian company.I am still afraid of job interviews in English and I don’t know how I answer variable questions.
    I really appreciate this article; It was very interesting and helpful for me.
    I learned some important things about job interviews from this article. I realized the importance of eye contact and body language once more.
    From this article I got courage and confidence which make good impressions in job interviews. If I have a chance to get a job interview, I will keep these points in mind.

  23. Thanks for all of good information.
    This knowledge is so useful for newcomers like me because in my home country every things are different.
    I learned hard or soft skills are not enough for take job and I need to change some of my belief about taking job.

  24. It is very important to do your homework and learn the local cultural before you go for a job interview. Be confident, and know how your body language could tell the interviewer about yourself. A firm handshake and be comfortable not only give an impression of confidence, but also, you would let the persons who interview you become comfortable with you as well. While constant eye contacts in some cultural may be considered as confrontation, while in Canada, it is totally acceptable, and highly recommended. Smile and mind your hand gesture as well. And ask questions.

    Tips definitely help me when I go for an interview are to learn about the organization, and always call your interviewers by names. Rehears what you want to say to be naturally out of you, and watch the way you talk, your tones, and very important your body language. Always be confident in “selling” yourself, and get what paid on what you are worth, believe yourself, and let your interview believe that you are the ideal candidate.

    I am so glad to read this article, and for a person like me who hasn’t had a job interview for a long time, I am always wondering how I will be doing, and what are the common mistakes people make. The article is all about “Be yourself”, and the four very basic behaviours are very simple but yet also difficult to master. My interviewers will learn about me in the 1st few seconds through my body language, and how I will be interacting with people whom I just met, and how good I am at “marketing” yourself confidently. I might a good candidates, but all these small details can end my chances on the spot. I wound find someone who are familiar with the interviewing process, and do a role play to help me to improve and be myself to shine in any job interviews.

    I would definitely won’t forget to send a thank you note after the interview, and that’s an another way to have them to remember who I am and why I am the person they are looking for.

  25. Thank you for shared a lot of good idea , that is very help me how to interview in Canadian . English is my second Language so Body Language is good for me what I want to expression . From my point of view, interviews is to be as much as possible relaxed and confident.

  26. Very inspiring points for the job interview.I haven’t had a job interview yet i Canada.The most important point is still to be yourself,we should be more confident and relax in the job interview.I heard at the first interview job you should not talk to the first about the salary.In my first country it is very similar,you need to have eye contact ,always say “thank you” after the conversation and smiles.Thank you for helpful advice ,if I have a chance to get job interview I’ll be ready.

  27. Thank you very much Gwen, for giving us some good advice. As a newcomer I found it hard to get mid-career level jobs. Definitely all your recommendations would be very helpful to all those who are looking for a good job with a career growth prospects.

    Every time when our company wanted to hire a new employee, the first interviewer was our company’s human resource specialist. In the next steps related department manager and then the project manager interviewed the new employee. The human resource specialist wanted to be assured about the soft skills and the department manager wanted to be assured about the technical skills and in the end the project manager wanted to review the interviewee’s application forms and asked some questions to find out if the interviewer could work with the other team members or not.

    I believe that self-confidence is one of those keys that help people to become successful in their interview. Besides, it is suggested that people should get themselves familiar to the way to an interviewing location before they go for the interview. These are just my two cents.

  28. I am lucky that I had an opportunity to read this article before taking an important interview which will be held the day after tomorrow.

    While I was reading the article, I remembered how I used to take job interviews especially when I could not receive a job offer. I was exactly the person who was sitting on the edge of a chair, giving weird eye contact, and being afraid of talking about salary.

    One day, I had a chance to ask my former boss why he hired me, and he gave me a quite simple answer. It was because he thought I looked comfortable during the interview. Without consciousnessly thinking about it, my body language gave him a good impression and that impression led him to the decision to hire me.

    From my experience and Guen’s article, I know how I should behave during a job interview. Hopefully these tips help me to do well in my coming interview.

  29. Thank you for the valuable shared experience. After graduation beginning job hunting, I have attended several workshops. One of which is about job interview, the career facilitator told us body language is probably one of the strongest forms of non-verbal communication, and it weighs significantly 85% in a job interview. Though, I was aware I didn’t pay more attention to it. As mentioned in the article, I usually sat down scrupulously with the purse on my laptop, I really have no more confidence on myself. Now I realized I would fake it till I make it such as occupying more space, with more smile on my face, maybe in this way I can impress the potential employer as a powerful candidate.

  30. Thank you, Gwen, for sharing your thoughts in four ways, each of which taught me a good lesson to remember:

    1) I am usually very grateful to people who respond positively to my requests, and have the tendency to thank them formally and excessively… Next time around I will certainly be more calculating and will hold back on my extensive expressions of gratitude. While excessive thanking is not the norm in Canada, I would think excessive smiling during an interview (or at least a good dosage of it) is addictive, and soothes the tension in both the interviewer and the interviewee. Although less apparent in the former, it may put the interviewee at ease to assume that the interviewer is also experiencing a fair amount of tension which arouses from the pressure of making the right decision.

    2) With regards to body language, although the way we behave as an interviewee is the outcome of how we perceive ourselves in our minds, the body language of the interviewer may also have an impact on us. For example Christine Lagarde of IMF was shown in one of the slides in the video standing with her arms akimbo, which in one way or another negatively affects the person she is talking to. Having said that, armed with tenacity and confidence, the interviewee will undoubtedly leave no stone unturned to secure a positive outcome from his/her experience.

    3) I have a question about the salary issue: instead of asking for a salary that may be way too low, what if the interviewee asks for a salary that may be way too high in an attempt to reach the apogee of his/her expectations? Would this have an adverse impact on the decision making process or it would simply be regarded as a value-add?

    4) Last but not least, I am glad to learn that we don’t have to constantly maintain eye contact, contrary to my conviction and fear of failing it. During the few interviews I had back home, I couldn’t help but look away for few seconds whenever I needed to think about the question before making eye contact again with the interviewer. Somehow I find it hard to think while looking straight into the eyes of the person I talk to.

  31. A great blog! I think these four behaviors are rather common in newcomers. Reading the blog gives me a better idea of what is expected in a Canadian job interview. This is a great reminder. Since there are already numerous comments in favor of these opinions, I’d like to also point out that the safe way to change is to still be yourself and take changing moderately. Because as far as I’m concerned, it’s only a matter of time to get lost when you force yourself to behave in a way you are not familiar with. Consciously reminding yourself to improve your behavior is great, but no need to push it. That’s just my two cents’ worth.

  32. Thank you, Gwen. I learnt a lot from your article. I was used to say excessive thanking. I did not ask for lower salary but I wouldn’t refuse it if the employer asked. I think confidence is crucial in interviews which can help you show yourself nicely. We can win nervousness by taking deep breaths, telling yourself “I am the best!”, copying winners’ postures before walk into the offices. And we should walk straight, keep shoulders back and chins up. Moreover, when you smile, the whole world will smile with you.

  33. Thank you for the wonderful blog. I often asked for higher salary when the interviewer(s) throw that question to me. If they react badly and think that I don’t worth it on the spot, I believe they don’t worth my effort anymore. There were times I believe I should be polite and stay ‘low profile’ for my professional service but that just gives a bad impression that I was ‘cheap’. I really enjoy it when employer or HR called me back and negotiated for a salary. It shows that they are professional and I am truly what they need for the work.

    It is a win-win situation to get good people to work for a company. It is ‘cheap’ to try to lower salary to hire a good person. When the word spreads out to friends and family, the whole World already knows how ‘cheap’ your company is. It just go both ways.

  34. Thank you very much, Gwen, for the nice and useful tips. I just want to contribute my two cents here. I believe that self-confidence is the key to the making of a successful interview. If people feel confident and comfort, for sure they will stretch out and ask for the salary that their work deserves. Imaging that you are talking with your friends might be helpful during an interview. Besides, it is suggested that people should get themselves familiar to the way to an interviewing location before they go for the interview.


    I took the liberty of quoting Gwen Pawlikowski in the title of my blog input, because it is the conclusion that I also have learnt after numerous job interviews.
    There was a moment in which because of being polite, I was not asking the right questions. I felt far from being and active listener, I was being silent and scared. I bet that recruiters perceived my attitude as a passive one, someone who needs to be always prompted in order to get things done.
    The funny result is that I got that job, but because of trying to be so polite and perfect, and never say no, I lost it too to my surprise. So overall, this was a highly frustrating experience.
    Believe me, when I heard that the next day was going to be my last day at that job, that canadian lady was not polite at all. I felt so defeated, ashamed and above all I felt useless for the first time in my life.
    Up to today, I don’t exactly know the reason why she fired me. When I think about it, I think it might be because I had to go out of the office to buy a gift certificate and it took me double the time because I got lost (yes, I still don’t know the city and get very disoriented) But I loved what I was doing.
    The lesson learnt from this experience is that I am already a very polite person, I should not force myself into being any different. All my life I worked at international fast pace business driven environments, and they are similar everywhere in the world. Sometimes, when you try to be perfect is we you loose the game, like it happened to me.
    In my particular case, a career counselor from the ISS of BC told be “you Lorena, you don’t have Canadian experience, but you have international experience which is the same”. I thank her for this advise.
    If you set the bar low, nobody will set the bar high for you.

  36. The article is very interesting Gwen, sometime I feel that I need to say thank you for the opportunity of an interview more than usually because I am newcomer and I don’t have Canadian experience. So, it is good to know not to be excessive.

  37. Thank you Gwen, you give us a lot of good ideas for how to make a success job interview in Canada. My interviewer was a Chinese guy when I was interviewed. So it is easy for me to my job interview. Sometimes I fell confused because I do not know how to have a job interview. For example, in our company, my boss is a native people, but more than 90 percent employees are from other countries. In our department, all employees are not native people. Every time when our department hired a new employee, the first interviewers were my co-works who are not native people. If everyone uses the Canada’s style for the job interview, I think it is not a good ideal. We know Canada is a multicultural country. we should respect each other no matter in the daily life or the job interview. I think both HR and the employee should international. We need to know different culture if we want to make our job better.
    I think the important thing in the job interview is that we should let the interviewers fell our confident of our professional skills.

  38. I am going to add an example that is help newcomers for interview .
    There is no doubt time is very important in Canada ,it is a monochronic country. I have a friend from Russia she said she had an interview and that was in 20 floor of high rise building .she was there 5 min before interview but in elevator cabin there were no 20 floor ! After a while she found there is two elevator up to 10 and 11 to 20 . She was nervous and lose her self confidence . But the point is she did this problem again when she went there one year latter and the reason was stress of interview . I think it’s better to find the address a day before to be on time.

    1. I found very interesting your advice, Gwen!!! I know that many newcomer have a lot of problem whe they are not feel confident, whatever I think that it is very important to find the address day before and also check the address in aadvance. I met with people who had this kind of problem in the same day of the interview, for many reason, Som example, Thye did not find a parking, did not find the address. To avoid this particular problem, will them an another scenery. This is really helpful for all those who are looking for a good job with a career growth prospects.

  39. These are some excellent points. Specially the one about the salary. I always have thought it is easier to get the job without mentioning the salary.

  40. well said Gwen. you pointed out on quite practical and valuable informations. i definitely agree with you, in some cultures interviewee don’t make a proper eye contact with interviewer it might be due to their religious beliefs particularly when one of them is male and the other one is male; on the other hand there is a chance that it might happens when the interviewee is under a lot of stress.

  41. When I read this advise, I was laughing because it seems to write about me. Also she indicated very important things. I believe that I must be too polite in Canadian Job Interview. Even though I know that, I will act automatically like another new comer. This is like a habit, and hard to change the attitude completely . Thank you for helpful advice ! If I have a chance to get job interview , I will read again.

  42. Thank you, Gwen. I really like the Folded-in body language part. I always believe that I should be myself in a interview, to show “I’m not threatening” and “I’m confident”. So I will claim more space and act naturally. I also like the idea that calling them by first names making them feel young if they ask to be called by a first name. You know, I have a part time job to serve customers. Sometimes I will begin with “Sir” even to some young men. I think maybe I should begin with “Buddy” or “Boss” to make them feel young. I’m still being polite, right?

    1. I also have a part-time job serving customers at the till. I find it interesting to talk to people and to ask about their works and lives. My previous job was in front of the computer. It is a big change. After a few months, my confidence increases and I am able to carry lightweight conversation pretty easily to strangers.

      I must constantly stand and move around for 8-hours. It helps me practice not to use folded-in body language. My eye contacts are on every customers because it makes the services more genuine.

  43. I express my appreciation to you for sharing those important information for us. It’s really helpful for us in our future life. Some of them i’ve experience in my country, such as no asking salary especially when we are in a internship. We don’t except to get a high salary so when the company give us a low salary, we just accept it. In terms of folded-in body language, i do a lot subconsciously since i’m not confident enough and yet i didn’t realize that will give interviewers that feeling.

  44. As I learned from my course, Canada is a informal country. People here do not value power distance. To get the job, you should show your charm and try to build some rapport with the interviewer. Also, it is a low context, people will tolerate some improper action and risk.

  45. Hi, Gwen!
    I remembered my interviews while I was reading your article. I exactly did like that because at that time, I was a newcomer and my English was awful but I really needed a job for my status. I am still afraid of the job interview but according to your advice, I would be better in the job interview. Thank for your advice.

  46. Good points, Gwen! I learned a lot from your article. Of course, there are many different job interview habits between Canadian and Chinese. But the four points you mentioned above apply to us as well, I think. Sometimes I was too nice and too polite in my job interview. I used to say a lot of “thanks” to the interviewer in just one interview and I did this in many other things. Now I notice that I should be more confident and relax in the job interview, for that will give me more chances to get the job I wanted.

  47. This information is very helpful. If it comes to me, I must be too polite. During the interview, I might call the employer by their last name. Even though I know Canadian people prefer to be called by the first name,beacause I think they might be my potential employer or supervisor, I should be polite to them. I will change this in the future. I think that I would accept a lower salary or position as long as the employer offers me a job,but I did not put it into action yet. I will keep this in mind and refuse for a lower salary.

  48. That’s great, Norminda! I’m glad the posting was useful for you. Best wishes for a great outcome on the job application.

  49. What a great article and advice! I had an interview this morning and I applied these four ways during the interview. It really helped me a lot. The most important point is still to be yourself because interviewers feel and see how genuine the person is. Thanks Gwen!

  50. Thank for your advice, Gwen! As a newcomer I find it hard to get a job, especially if you are young and trying to find a job in the field of your educational background. I used to think that a better way to get a job is to ask to pay less (I wanted just to get a job and have a Canadian work experience). But now I really understand that everyone on labor market should treat themselves as professionals who deserve to be paid fairly. I am sure that all your recommendations would be very helpful to all those who are looking for a good job with a career growth prospects.

  51. I believe, what you brought out would certainly work , not only in interview’s but also in any business meeting, i.e. sales, marketing, business and conteract negotiations etc,.
    Thank you for sharing your insights.

  52. Excellent article. It is very important to take into account point number 3 regarding to asking for a fair salary. So many times as new immigrants, people don’t negotiate their salaries or accept low ones to ensure their job or for fear of losing what they have. But in Canada there are laws to protect people. It is good to know that in Canada by law, people should get paid the same amount for doing the same work, regardless of gender, age, nationality, ethnicity, or sexual orientation, and that at least in theory this kind of abuses shouldn’t occur.
    Thank you for all the advices, very useful and practical.

    1. Thanks for your elaboration, Marianella, especially your point about “in theory.” We know that societies are always changing, so unfortunately some injustice still occurs. Enlightenment can be slow; resistance can be hard to change. But at least a law gives us strength in claiming our right to be paid fairly. The more we all demand fair treatment (protected by laws), the fairer our society becomes. Gradually, we will create a society where we all have a chance to share in the Canadian pie.

  53. Very inspiring points for the job interview, Gwen! I did meet the similar situation when I negotiate about the salary with my current boss during the interview. Unfortunately I accept the lower salary simply because I just move to Canada, and need to adapt to the new environment at beginning. If it were in my country I would be quite confident to address all the aspects that I am really worthy of. However, for only a couple of weeks working here, I discover that I can do better job than my colleagues in some certain aspects. Whatever, I still feel lucky and grateful for having a job at the very beginning. Perhaps in the future, I will be more confident in the interview, especially with your valuable comments and advice.

  54. Thank you for your helpful advice, Gwen! Actually, I haven’t had a job interview yet in Canada, so this is a kindest reminder for me. I think, as for me, the hardest one might be about eye contact because I feel quite awkward if I meet someone’s eyes directly and I tend to shun away immediately. I am afraid the reason may come from Chinese culture which advocates implication rather than straightness. Yet anyway, it really needs confidence and relaxation in order to express ourselves naturally. I hope that with this useful tips, I could do well in my future interviews.

  55. Cool idea, Jessa! I once heard a friend say that when she is nervous, she imagines that she is an actress playing the role of herself. What I mean is, in my case, I would imagine how an actress would behave if she were playing the role of me. Of course, I imagine she would “act” calm, confident and articulate. I think this is similar to your idea. If we imagine “playing a role” the pressure seems to be released.

  56. Excellent advice about folded in body language Gwen, when people do not trust themselves, how can expect other people or employers rely on them. your body languages and attitudes show that how much you are self confident and trust yourself.

    1. Thanks, Mohammad. Confidence is big. I remember when I once dislocated my kneecap and went to ER. The ER doctor asked me if I wanted to have general anesthetic to make me unconcious, or if he could just go ahead and snap my kneecap back in place. I had suffered this injury before and knew what the snap felt like (weird, painful, but potentially quick). I asked him, “Are you good at this?” He smiled and said, “I’m very good at this!” And snapped my kneecap in place faster than I could say, “OK, pop it.” I was grateful for his skill. But what I really remember is his confidence. I was so happy to trust him and he didn’t disappoint.

  57. Thanks for your advice, Gwen.
    All those points are important, and I believe people need to practice it often.
    Just like the Ted video we have this week mentioned, by changing role, people might get more powerful sense of feeling. And that’s how I have done during past interviews.
    I would fake that I am just discussing matters with other friend rationally, not a HR or supervisor. The main purpose of the discussion would be two exchange information, and leave the decision to each of the person. As a result, by faking it, I could calm down, and behave appropriate without being nervous.
    In addition, because of the role playing, I won’t have the feeling that I am now being judged by others. Thus, I could make eye contact, get relaxed posture, and without being too deferential.

  58. Thanks for sharing this information. It is very helpful. When it comes to me, I am too polite. During the interview, I call the employer by their last name, such as Mr. (Ms.) Last name. Even though I know Canadian people prefer to be called by the first name, I still called their last name. I thought they are my potential employer or supervisor, I should be polite to them. I should change this in the future. Another mistake I almost make is about the salary. I did think that I would accept a lower salary or position as long as the employer offers me a job. But I did not put it into action. I will keep this in mind and never ask for a lower salary.

    1. Thanks, Lucy. I appreciate that you shared your personal experience. Sometimes when Canadians say they don’t want to be called “Mr.” or “Ms.”, it is because they want to feel young, and being called by a first name makes them feel young. Just think that if they ask to be called by a first name, and if you do what they ask, you are really helping them to feel younger. That’s a different kind of politeness! So, you are still being polite.

  59. Yes, it’s really true that relaxation helps us all. We all need to breathe and remind ourselves to be calm. Thank you for your comment.

  60. Very interesting and important points Gwen! The interesting point for me is asking for fair salary, not the lower. It means, I believe my skills and also myself. So, employer can trust me in workplace to do my job. Another interesting point is , avoiding to say “thank you” too much. This point is correlated with cultural differences. From my point of view, important point in job interviews is to be relaxed and confident. When we are relaxed, we can think and speak better and have a good effect on interviewer. Actually every employer needs confident, capable and relaxed employee.

  61. You made some excellent points Gwen! In one job interview I did ask for a higher salary than they were offering. And after a bit of discussion where I gave evidence of why I should be paid a little more, they agreed. It was important for me to make a little more money in this new position as it was asking for more responsibilities than my last position so I felt a higher salary was warranted. Plus I really did believe in myself and felt this was an appropriate salary. The key point here was believing in myself. That gave me the confidence to ask for a salary that I thought was equal to my abilities.

    1. Thanks for the illustration, Donna. It’s great to hear examples of people asking for what they believe is fair. Research gives us evidence, but belief in ourselves lets us assert our claim. Amazing things can happen when we just simply ask and expect a positive result.

  62. Important advice, Gewn! I just want to add that there is a positive correlation between being too deferential and lack of self confidence. In order to break this viciouc cycle we should pay special atetntion to our body language and it is recommended to practice confident behavior and assertivness especially for at least two minutes immediately prior to the job interview.

    1. Interesting comment, Payman, about the positive correlation between being too deferential and being under-confident. In many cultures, there is a reward for being deferential. But I don’t see that here in Canada. I think many newcomers feel culture stress when they are treated badly after acting, in their own assessment, very politely. Not knowing how to be polite, when one’s usual way of being polite is rejected, has got to create a feeling of instability and insecurity. I think this must be a common and challenging experience for many newcomers.

  63. Great points, Gwen! One more observation about coats: I’ve interviewed quite a lot of people and often facilitate first meetings with mentors and mentees., and sometimes job applicants or mentees don’t take off their winter coats and hats during ameeting. Maybe this is due to nervousness, attention focused elsewhere, or simply because they’re from a warm climate where it’s commonly 35 or 40 degrees outside! Anyway, it doesn’t create an impression of confidence and ease that is desirable in an interview. I also totally agree about salary. Many of our clients are willing to take less than market value just to get a foot in the door. This is totally understandable, but asking for too low a salary gives the impression that you have little confidence in your abilities.

    1. Yes, interesting comment about coats! The climate here creates a need for big coats outside but then they aren’t appropriate inside. I can imagine this is an area of learning for many newcomers who come from warmer countries.

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