Job Search Month: Interviewing Skills and Small Talk

—Amy M. Gardner

September is job search month, and this week we’re focusing on interviews. Below we’ve collected a number of resources to help you prepare for all types of job interviews. But here’s a tip that will take less time to implement than reading any of those resources.

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You know you should prepare for standard — and more unusual — interview questions, review the job posting and information about the employer and interviewer, and know your resume, cover letter, and qualifications for the position inside and out.

Beyond the typical, a commonly overlooked element of preparation is also one of the easiest: Come ready for small talk.

When the receptionist asks, “how are you today?” or the interviewer asks “how was your weekend?” or “how was your flight?” you need to be ready with a positive, upbeat answer. This isn’t the time to tell of the incompetence of your Uber driver, the irritation of flight delays, that you left the house in two different shoes and had to go back and change, or that you are exhausted from cramming last night. Instead, briefly think through something positive to say so if or when nerves kick in, you don’t suddenly find yourself starting the interview by babbling in a negative tone that can make recovery difficult.

And, if you find yourself with extra preparation time, look up the sports scores from the night or weekend before, just in case you're interviewed by someone who has filled their office with paraphernalia from the local team.

Check out these posts and articles for more helpful tips on interviews:

5 tricky interview questions you should be ready to address
5 tips for initial interviews
5 tips to ace your video interview
Advice on whether to address a side hustle in an interview
25 tips for phone interviews

And come back next week as we tackle salary negotiations.