#16: How to get better at small talk

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You have a job interview fast approaching and you feel slightly nervous. You’re anxiously preparing answers to the most common interview questions so you can ace your answers. You’ve researched the company, selected your perfect interview outfit, and even googled the hiring manager. But, what’s one aspect you might have neglected to think about? Small talk. 

It’s an inevitable part of every job interview. How can you make the best out of a seemingly insignificant conversation? Consider these 4 points:

1. Please don’t mention the weather

Friendly chats about the weather are easy to lean on. However, I think we can all agree that they aren’t very impactful or memorable. I can’t imagine many hiring managers vouching for a candidate by saying, “Hey, how about the guy that mentioned how sunny it was? I thought he was great!”

So, do yourself a favor and skip the generalities and clichés. You can bet that every other candidate is using those – and you want to be the one to stand out.

2. Find a Common Interest

If you were thinking ahead, you’d have spent some time researching your interviewer before you arrived at the meeting. Whenever you’re doing that polite research through his or her professional social media profile, keep your eyes looking for any common interests you might share. Alternatively, find one thing to say about you and your hobbies, sth. general you can’t go wrong with, for example sports.

What this sounds like: “I’m doing great, thanks! I started the day with a training run for my upcoming half marathon, so I really can’t complain.”

3. Comment on Something Company Related

Of course, you’re there to demonstrate that you’d be a great fit for the company. So, any time you can show that you have an interest and high level of engagement in what that organization has going on, that’s a win for you.

As you’re waiting for your meeting, look for any clues you could use to start a conversation. Maybe the company has several awards hanging on the wall of the lobby. Perhaps you couldn’t help but to overhear two co-workers discussing the upcoming running competition.

Those little insights into the company can be a great topic of conversation with your interviewer. Don’t be afraid to use them!

What this sounds like: “I heard someone talk about a company-wide running contest while I was waiting. It sounds like you have a really great culture here – I love running!”

4. Ask Questions

No matter how much you prepare, small talk can still be awkward. In those moments when you’re feeling a little panicky, never hesitate to rely on this tactic: asking questions.

Doing so will shift the spotlight off of you. And, honestly, when your interviewer will be the one having to ask questions for the next half hour or so, he likely won’t mind a little bit of time to be on the receiving end and share a little bit about himself.

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It can be strange to think about preparing for small talk. But, when you’re at a job interview, every single second is an opportunity to make a positive impression and get yourself one step closer to actually getting that position.

So, rather than wasting that friendly chit chat on the weather or pleasantries that don’t extend past, “I’m fine, thanks!” use these tips to best use that time to your advantage.

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