Using Small Talk to Make a Big Impression
As you are running through the list of typical interview questions, piecing together your most professional outfit and printing an updated version of your resume, remember that a large part of making an impression is the ability to carry on a casual conversation during the interview. Yes, the interviewer wants to know that you fulfill all of the job requirements; however, they also want to know that you could fit in and get along with the other team members. This small talk is one way that you can make a big impression during your interview. I have even heard friends say that they believe that the small talk aspect of the interview was more impactful than some areas on their resume.
If you lack the gift of gab, or simply don’t know what small talk will make a big impact, here are some tips and tricks to keep the conversation going in a meaningful way.
1. Avoid the weather/traffic talk: Yes, the weather in Seattle has been nice. Yes, the new traffic revisions add to your commute time. No, these facts are not worth mentioning. If your interviewer brings them up, give an honest response and move forward. You have a limited amount of time to impress them, and traffic and weather chit chat will detract from your more interesting attributes.
2. Research topics: As you are researching, make a mental note of some questions that you have or some areas that interest you about the company. An interviewer will appreciate you mentioning that you read an article online about how their company is involved in community events or any new company developments. Through mentioning topics that you researched, you can help the interviewer gauge your interest level in the job.
3. Look up your interviewer: Although you don’t want to come right out and tell your interviewer that you enjoyed their Instagram post about their family vacation last month, subtly try to incorporate any areas that you found out that you have in common. If you find that you went to the same school, make sure to mention your alma mater in your discussion—who knows, you may have the same favorite restaurant near campus. Similarly, if you notice that they are passionate about a local charity, make sure to make community service a focus of your conversation.
4. Do some quick investigating: While you should always research a company before your interview, some quick thinking and investigative skills can give you a small talk topic that will capture your interviewer’s attention. Start with the walls and take note of anything that the company has chosen to hang up to display. Do you see any awards or certificates that you can point out and inquire about? In addition, pay attention to the art that they chose—chances are that there is a story behind it.
As you prepare for your next interview, know that the way that you respond to small talk and casual conversation will be taken into account (consciously or not). Be prepared and keep some topics that are unique to the company, the position and the interviewer in mind.