Recruiting. Its Personal.

Winning the Interview

 Interview Small Talk

"So, what did you think of the basketball game last night?"

Beware: These types of questions aren't just small talk. They're part of the interview - and they're more important than you think.

When hiring managers initiate conversations about the weather or your commute, they're not just interested in ice on the expressway. They're also trying to get a feel for your personality and temperament.

Casual conversations let interviewers get to know the candidates beyond their prepared answers and work experience.

These conversations are also a great way for a job seeker to show they're friendly people who will fit in well within the organization. Here are some tips to help you come out on top:

1)  Don't let your guard down.

It's fine to relax a little and become more casual. But still always be in control of everything you say: be courteous, polite and friendly at all times.

2)  Make a connection with your interviewer.

Try to find something in common with your interviewer and build rapport with him or her and make a lasting, positive impression.

When you enter the interviewer's office, scan the room for pictures or other items that might help you pick up on his or her interests, Nierenberg advises. But take care when asking about photographs - inadvertently asking about the interviewer's late husband could cast a black cloud over the interview.

3)  Listen more than you speak.

Try to speak just 20 percent of the time and encourage the interviewer to speak 80 percent of the time.

4)  Be positive.

Whether you're talking about a difficult former boss or commenting on the blizzard outside, avoid any use of negativity - you don't want the employer's only memory of you to be a negative one.

5)  Know when to move on.

Don't forget: You're not at the interview to make friends. You're there to persuade the hiring manager that you're the best person for the job. After a few minutes of chatting, steer the conversation back on track by referring to your accomplishments and experience.

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