Interview Etiquette: Small Talk Dos and Don’ts
Interview small talk is critical. In fact, with nearly 60 percent of job interviews, hiring managers know whether they will hire you within the first 15 minutes of an interview. With that in mind, it’s worth knowing a few dos and don’ts for interview etiquette.
DO stay with safe topics. Weather and traffic are great. Sports could be risky, but if you know for sure that your interviewer favors a particular team, bonding over the team could be fun. On the other hand, religion and politics definitely are risky. If your interviewer treads on dangerous ground, redirect the conversation to friendly territory.
DON’T underdress. Aim for one or two levels higher than what you think employees at the business dress like. This holds true even if you would be wearing jeans on the job. For the interview, wear slacks. Also avoid flashy clothes and flashy jewelry.
DO pay attention to your body language. Crossing your arms and rarely smiling may signal that you are not an energetic candidate. To get an idea of the message you are conveying, record a mock small-talk session between you and a friend. Review it for body language cues to find what you can work on.
DON’T cut off interviewers. Even with small talk, interview etiquette rules apply. Let interviewers finish speaking before you reply, and project confidence and friendliness.
DO prepare for questions such as, “So, tell me about yourself,” and “What brings you here on this fine day?” Also recognize them for what they are, a transition into the more structured part of a job interview. It may be time to leave some of the jokes and informality behind.
DON’T appear incompetent. For instance, say an interviewer asks, “Did you have any trouble getting here?” You might have had a lot of a trouble such as a speeding ticket and dinging another car when you parked, but refrain from mentioning these colorful aspects of your trip.