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Small talk

Back to: Language for interviewing

At the beginning of the interview, a good interviewer will try to make you feel at ease and break the ice by making small talk about the weather or your journey, or asking you questions from your CV about your interests.

Give short, positive answers to questions:

Interviewer So, Melanie, did you find us all right?
Good response Yes, thanks. Your directions were very clear, so I had no problem finding you at all.

Notice how the candidate compliments the company on their clear instructions.

Interviewer I see from your CV that you're interested in sailing. How long have you been doing that?
Good response I started sailing at university and I've been sailing competitively for two years now.

No more detail is necessary. However, the candidate has used the opportunity to mention that she sails competitively, which indicates ambition.

Sample small talk

Interviewer Please take a seat ... Did you fly over from Germany this morning?
Good response No, I flew over yesterday. I'm staying with some friends I met at an English language course in Cambridge last year.
Negative response No, I flew over yesterday. I was worried about flight delays and I've heard that Britain has a really bad train service, so I wanted to be sure I got here on time.
Response to avoid! No, I flew over yesterday.

TIPS! Small talk

  • Keep answers to small talk brief but positive.
  • Volunteer information even if the question only requires a "yes" or "no" answer.
  • Remember that small talk is an exchange of simple questions and answers as a way of introduction and breaking the ice. Responses such as "Yes, I did." or "No, I didn't." stop the exchange which can lead to an awkward and negative start to your interview!

Back to: Language for interviewing