No matter how prepared you are for your job interview, you may not get the position if you don't build rapport with the interviewers. People want to work with others who are personable and friendly, so prepare a few conversation starters to prevent awkward moments of silence. Be sure to smile and make eye contact as you chat. Here are a few suggestions to get you started.
Don't Be Afraid of Clichés
The old standbys might seem cliché, but they are perfectly acceptable for breaking the ice at your job interview. "How was your weekend?" "That was quite some storm we had last night." "How's your day going?" These are all easy ways to spark a connection with your interviewer. Use open-ended questions to encourage the interviewer to say more than a few words, and be sure to listen attentively and respond appropriately to the interviewer's remarks.
Offer a Compliment
You may find the perfect conversation starter during your research into the company. Offering congratulations for any type of industry award or other department success is a great way to spark company related small talk at the start of a job interview. If that isn't possible, try complimenting a piece of art in the office or the view from the window. Showing appreciation for art or the beauty of nature gives the interviewer a more well-rounded vision of yourself. On the other hand, avoid complimenting the interviewer's clothing or personal appearance. Those type of compliments may be misconstrued.
Ask the Interviewers About Their Jobs
Start a company related conversation by asking how long the interviewers have worked for the company. Move on to questions about what surprised them most about the company after they started working there or what were their most memorable work experiences. Try to keep the focus of the conversation positive. For example, instead of asking about problems or challenges, ask what they like most about working for the company. Use company related small talk to show your serious interest in the business and knowledge of the industry.
Share Something You've Read
Sharing a few points from an industry related news or informational article is an easy way to start an appropriate conversation. It is also acceptable to share something interesting that you read on a topic less specifically related to the job interview as long as you avoid controversial subject matter, such as politics or religion. Watch the interviewer for signs of interest to see if you should share more. Never tell jokes or funny stories, especially those that might paint you in a negative light.
Preparing a few conversation starters can reduce your anxiety level during job interviews. Remember to avoid topics that are too personal and to keep the atmosphere upbeat and positive. Ask questions that keep the focus on the other person, but make sure to share some of your own story also. Casual conversations during a job interview gives the interviewers a glimpse of your personality, allowing them to picture you as part of the team.
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