Avoid Awkward Pauses With These Three Subjects

Nancy Anderson
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When you're interviewing, it's natural to feel a bit nervous talking to complete strangers. You practiced your introduction for a few hours, but then after that, you're lost when it comes to a topic of conversation and there's an awkward pause. Then, you scramble and fumble about what to say. Perhaps your slight discomfort then turns to worry. Instead of letting silence get in the way, consider three subjects to bring up.

1. Reading, Watching, Listening

Break the ice with some lighthearted chit-chat about what you're currently listening to, reading or watching. Sure, the interview is all about your professional experience, qualifications and the position at hand. However, there's nothing wrong with keeping it professional while filling an awkward pause with something not related to your profession. Talk about an inspirational book you're reading about business leadership and why the book means so much to your professional growth. Mention that great new television series that just started or a podcast that you listened to as you drove to the interview. Talk about why these things matter to you to show that you take your professional growth seriously.

2. Weekly Accomplishments

Naturally, you can fill an awkward pause with something related to your current job or other professional happening. What big project are you working on this week? What about that business conference in town last Friday? What's the latest industry news that everyone's talking about in the break room? The point of talking is to exchange information with your interviewers, and starting the conversation means the people in front of you would probably keep the conversation going so you can find a common ground and get to know each other throughout the interview.

3. Weekend Plans

Talking about weekend plans may not seem like a good conversation started amid an awkward pause. Think about how your hobbies might play into a company's culture or indicate some aspect of your personality or soft skills. Perhaps you plan on competing in a triathlon over the weekend. That means you're competitive and you dedicate yourself to intense training ahead of the race. Spending time with family means you're a devoted parent, spouse, sibling or grown child who values spending time with others. The traits you exhibit during your time off may translate into the type of person you become at the office.

Keep Things Interesting

Filling an awkward pause does more than just prevent nervousness. It shows that you're an interesting person during an interview when you spark a conversation. Talking about relevant subjects means you show your knowledge about work-related subjects, such as the latest accomplishments made by the employer, recent industry news or a strategic plan designed to solve a problem within the company.

An awkward pause doesn't have to make your job interview any more nerve-wracking than it already is. Practice talking about these three subjects and have them ready to talk about at a moment's notice. These subjects might make you stand out from the crowd and land you a job.


Photo courtesy of ser andre gonzalez at Flickr.com

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  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    @Edward K thanks for your comment. I think it's a two-way street - that you both have to keep the conversation going or thank him and take your leave. From personal experience, if there was a gap in the conversation - I mean a gap of at least several minutes - I would say - do you have any other questions for me? That always seems to bring the interviewer back and then we can either continue or end the interview.

  • Edward K.
    Edward K.

    Why should there be gaps during the interview? Isn't it the interviewers responsibility to keep the conversation going?

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