According to research, 1 in 6 Brits are currently actively looking for a job, with 9.8 million employed people actively looking for a role every day in the UK, it is easy to see why it takes job hunters 4-months to find a new role.

Before diving into the interview process, especially with online interviews, there are often a few moments of small talk before the real interview questions start. According to Dr Geroge Sik, psychologist and workplace expert at, this is actually an incredible important part of the meeting for both sides of the (virtual) table – and the key to who lands the role.

“The small talk offers the candidate a chance to make a first, but lasting impression. In a sea of CVs, this is the chance to really stand out against other candidates, and for interviewers to get to know what a candidate is really like. In fact, in Asian and Middle Eastern business culture, small talk is arguably even more important than it is in the West, particularly when it comes to discussing families.”

How to nail the pre-interview small talk

  • Maybe skip the weather chat.

It seems the obvious safe choice, but it is unlikely to be a memorable answer during the hiring managers debrief.

  • Use it to casually demonstrate a common interest 

If you’ve done your homework on the interviewer, this is an ideal way to get your interview off to a strong start. If you share a similar hobby or interest it can be a great way to build a natural rapport.

  • Ask the question back

If the small talk involves your day so far, experts recommend asking the interviewer the same question back.

  • Be Positive

Nobody wants to work with someone with a negative mindset, so even if your commute was negative, re-frame it to focus around what actually went right.

  • Stand out

Mention something personal that will help you stand out – such as a niche interest. For example if your morning involved training or preparing for an upcoming event, use that as a chance to reference your hobby

What employers should look out for during small talk

  • How comfortable are they making small talk?

This will demonstrate how they might fit in with the team they’re potentially joining and how quickly they may settle in.

  • Are they collaborative or a team player?

Do they ask the hiring manager a question back? Simply keeping focus on themselves could be a sign they’re uncomfortable working with others.

  • Are they positive about their morning so far?

The interview hasn’t begun for many candidates so they are more likely to be honest and present a more accurate version of themselves.

  • How important is communication in the role?

If the job doesn’t involve communication to a large extent (for example, in many tech roles), small talk won’t be important and there is no need to look for it. Communication isn’t universally needed, despite what we might think.

Original Article: HRnews

Master the art of pre-interview small talk to leave a lasting impression and land your dream job. For all your recruitment challenges – contact our HR & digital recruitment specialist Gareth Allison on 02920 620702

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