How are your ‘chit-chat’ skills?
You arrive 5 minutes early, you look good, you feel good, and you’re well rested and ready for your interview. The interviewer greets you and walks you to her office. As you’re walking she asks casually, “So did you have trouble finding parking nearby?” to which you reply, “Oh man, I hate coming to this neighborhood, parking around here is always a drag! I drove around for like twenty minutes then finally had to pay a fortune to park in the lot next door!” Okay, whether you know it or not, you just blew your interview. No matter how impressive your resume or job history may be, by ranting about your parking problems, you just told your interviewer that you are a negative, ill-mannered person who is thrown off by the small inconveniences of life.
Never forget that everything that happens from the time you arrive for the interview to the time you leave the building is part of the interview. When interviewers make small talk with you it’s not just to fill the silence, it’s an important opportunity to get a feel for your temperament and your attitude in general. Using casual conversation to get candidates warmed up and talking in a more un-self-conscious way is a standard tool in every hiring manager’s toolbox. In this way they can gain much more insight into a candidate’s personality and outlook then they can by the standard interview questions about work history and experience, for which the candidate has (hopefully) rehearsed their answers. Since small talk is inevitable, use it to show the interviewer that you are a positive person who isn’t phased by the little stuff and would be a good fit within their organization.