Those awkward moments when you chat about the weather or news with your interviewers before they start asking questions aren’t just them trying to be nice. Turns out the gift of gab might get you a gig. Photo by K-Startup 2016.
Researchers Brian Swider, Brad Harris and Murray Barrick recorded 163 job interviews with business school students to determine how pre-interview banter affected the interview overall. Their findings, summarised at Harvard Business Review, suggest that decent small talk skills makes a noticeable difference during the hiring process. Small talk gives you a chance to form a good first impression, as well as demonstrate some job-relevant attributes. For example, you have a chance to prove that you’re a “people person” if you have it listed on your resume. You can demonstrate things like listening and communication skills that you might not be able to show if you’re giving canned responses during the interview.
According to Swider, Harris and Barrick, you should plan to be “on” during all interactions with your prospective employer — and that includes the seemingly pointless small talk before they start actually asking you questions. If you struggle with small talk, remember that it’s about making a connection with them, not providing substance. To practise your small talk, you can chat with strangers and work your way up to being a small talk master. You can read more about their findings at the link below.
Should You Chat Informally Before an Interview? [Harvard Business Review]