Learning to make small talk in interviews is one way to sell your personality to hiring managers, but you can also talk yourself out of a job. Interviewers are highly critical of behaviors they might normally overlook, so awkward statements stay on their minds even if the rest of the meeting goes well. If you want any chance to make a good impression, avoid using these terrible conversation starters.
1. So, What Does This Company Do?
No matter how friendly and relatable you sound, no hiring manager wants a candidate who doesn't bother preparing for interviews. Showing up with no knowledge of the company or position makes you seem lazy and indifferent about where you work. Once you ask this fateful question, hiring managers write you off as a waste of time.
2. A Funny Thing Happened Today...
This statement could end in countless ways, and most of them are inappropriate for a job interview. A crazy story might go over well in some circles, but it's best to avoid sharing incriminating details about your personal life when you have no clue what an interviewer is thinking. While you may imagine yourself as the endearing protagonist of a comedic tale, most hiring managers assume you don't know basic rules of professionalism.
3. You Have Great Facebook Photos
Flattery is dangerous territory, especially when the subtext reveals how much time you spent stalking the hiring manager on social media. Obviously, both candidates and recruiters screen each other online, but referencing a stranger's personal details crosses an unspoken boundary. Not to mention, complimenting an interviewer's physical appearance can come across as sexual harassment if you aren't careful.
4. What Do You Think About the Election?
Substitute any topic for "election," and the verdict is the same. Controversial topics have no place in job interviews. Hiring managers want to understand your qualifications, not listen to spirited rants on politics, social justice or religion. Managers have plenty of time to learn more about your personality if they decide to hire you.
5. Can We Keep This Brief?
Asking to cut a meeting short for another appointment is like telling the hiring manager her time is worth nothing to you. Find out the tentative timeline when you first arrange the interview to make sure you don't schedule multiple engagements close together. Always arrive early and leave extra time in your schedule. After all, interviews can easily go over time when you have good rapport with the hiring manager.
6. Here Are My Must-Haves and Deal Beakers
Confidence is a virtue, but only when it's balanced by humility and common sense. Reputable employers understand that hiring is a two-way street, but they prefer to find out whether you're a good fit for the job and culture before discussing details about benefits and working conditions. Leading with a list of demands makes you seem selfish and arrogant, so wait to find out what the company offers before launching into negotiation mode.
Keep it simple when it comes to conversation starters. Ask too many questions, and you sound annoying. Say anything negative about past jobs or the horrible commute, and you sound like a complainer. Hiring managers look for reasons to reject you, and you make their job easier by working too hard to fill the silence.
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