Job Seeker Blog - Spark Hire

Tips For Chatting with an Interviewer

Although being qualified for a position is usually vital to a job interview, being liked by your interviewer can be equally as important. In fact, interviewers will likely choose a candidate based on how much they liked him/her. This might be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on how you like to interview. (Though we will assume that our Spark Hire readers are always qualified for the jobs they interview for!) In any case, it is very important to be able to engage in professional chatter with your interviewer during your job interview. Here are some tips for talking professionally about your personal life, including the all-important pre-Superbowl question: should you reveal your favorite sports team?

There are a few tips that can help you keep the job interview as professional as possible. First, don’t be the one to veer off track. If your interviewer brings up something unrelated to the job, then feel free to engage in the conversation. But don’t ask unsolicited questions about your interviewer’s personal life or interests. It’s not professional.

However, asking polite questions as part of a conversation started by your interviewer is a great idea. Moderation is certainly important, but people do love to talk about themselves. When engaging in small talk during a job interview, it is important to listen more than you talk about your own personal life. Your interviewer doesn’t really want to hear about your daughter’s experience at summer camp (but you should be an excellent listener if they want to talk about their dog’s obedience training).

Following this rule of thumb can also help you avoid accidentally revealing too much in a job interview. In fact, we have mentioned before to beware of interviewers trying to pry too much into your personal life. It is illegal for interviewers to discriminate based on your marital or family status, but if you give them that information freely there is no way for you to stop them from using that information in their decision-making process. Accidentally mention that you have eight kids? Your interviewer might unfairly (or fairly) assume that you will miss work all the time to care for them, and not offer you the job. It is best to stick to safe topics: traffic, pets, sports, etc.

Yes, according to this source, sports are actually a relatively safe topic of conversation. Most people who are sports fans would rather talk to a sports fan of an opposing team than someone who didn’t follow athletics at all. Be courteous and professional about revealing your choice (and sensitive to big rivalries in your geographic area!), and focus on your love of baseball, football, etc. in general. Perhaps even talk about any Superbowl festivities you might have planned. Hot wings are definitely a safe topic of conversation!

Has an interviewer ever asked too much about your personal life? Tell us about it below, or send me a tweet: @ithinkther4iamb

IMAGE: Courtesy of Flickr by Loozrboy

Kristin Anderson

Kristin has a B.A. in English from the University of Iowa, with an emphasis in creative writing. In her free time she enjoys long walks, kitchen adventures, and making puns.