Hey there, and welcome to Speak English with Christina, where you’ll have fun becoming fluent in American English. Imagine, you have a job interview in English soon. You’ve prepared your questions, with my course Get The Job. You’ve practiced your answers, and you feel pretty confident. But did you think about the small talk?
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That’s right, even in an interview, your ability to make small talk plays a big role in the interviewer’s impression of you. What should you say, and what should you NOT say? That’s what you’ll learn today.
If you think small talk has no place in a job interview, let me share some research with you. In a study of 163 job interviews, researchers found that pre-interview small talk made a significant difference on the result of the interview.
Small talk gives you a chance to make a good impression. Plus, you show that you’re a nice person to work with. And we all like working with nice people. Maybe the interviewer wants to make friendly chit chat, small conversations, before jumping in to the big questions, like “Tell me about yourself” and “What are you biggest weaknesses?”, for example…
“How are you today?”
Often, the interviewer will start with “How are you today?” Don’t just say “Fine” and then stop talking. That creates awkward, uncomfortable silence. You’re expected to elaborate a little. Say something about your day, the trip to get to their office, or how excited you are to be there.
Here are a few ideas:
“Good, it’s been a good day so far, I had a productive morning, so yeah, everything’s good.”
Another one: “Fine, thanks. The traffic was smooth getting here, and it was easy to find your office, so… so far, so good!”
Or another one “I’m good thanks. I’ve been looking forward to this interview for a while, so I’m happy to finally be here.”
Keep it positive. You don’t want the interviewer to remember you as the person who complained all the time!
If you have the habit of complaining about train strikes, the bad weather, or how tired you are, please go watch the lesson “How to answer ‘How are you?’” It seems like a basic question, but I see students who mess this up all the time. Think of it as your first interview question…and prepare it!
Don’t talk about the weather
Sure, weather is a very common small talk subject in everyday conversations, where your aim is not necessarily to impress the other person. But if you have the chance to meet an interviewer, use every moment to convince them you’re the right person.
Every other candidate will probably talk about the weather, just because it is kind of the basic small talk conversation.
But you’re smarter than that, and you’re going to stand out because you actually thought to prepare the small talk before the interview. Here are some things you can talk about instead, which will have a much higher impact: things you have in common.
Find a common interest
If you know who will interview you, it’s easy to find their LinkedIn profile and learn a little about their interests.You can then casually mention the thing you have in common. Maybe you saw they posted an article about, I don’t know… women in technology.
And earlier that week, you read an article on how Washington D.C. is America’s top city for women in tech. Drop this casually into the conversation if you have an opportunity.
“You know, earlier this week, I heard a podcast about how Washington D.C. has a lot of women in the tech industry there. I didn’t know that, did you?”
Your interviewer will be pleasantly surprised to learn that you have a shared interest. And we all like people who share our interests!
Now, maybe you feel a little awkward making small talk, don’t worry. With practice, it becomes easier. And my course Successful Small Talk was designed for students who are comfortable enough with professional discussions in English, but can’t find the right things to say in everyday conversations.
We may call it “small” talk, but it can make a big difference in your career!
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Now, what about you?
What subjects to you usually discuss when you make small talk? Share your ideas, and let’s continue the conversation in the comments.
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Thanks for watching Speak English with Christina, and I’ll see you next time!
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