You’re sitting in the waiting room wearing your lucky underwear when the interviewer welcomes you with a “how you going?”. The dreaded small talk begins, first impressions count and you have 7 seconds to impress. You pass the first test with a firm handshake and settle down for a grilling. You’re unsure if you should tell them about your obsession with cats or how you have recently taken up ferret racing. Below are some tips on how to ace interview small talk.
Keep it safe - Whilst small talk is important, remember this is an interview and they are judging you on everything you say. Try to stay away from topics that usually divide opinions such as politics and religion. If your interviewer brings up these sorts of topics, try to change the subject, or simply reposition the question back to them. We all tend to have strongly formed opinions on certain subjects, you don’t want to miss out on your dream job because your views don’t align with the hiring managers.
Find things in common - Look closely at your surroundings for things you may have in common with your interviewer as it can help break the ice. I was at a client meeting recently where the office was covered in completed Lego models. I loved Lego as a child and this is something I now play with my kids. We spent almost as long talking about Lego as we did anything else. Things like sports memorabilia, artwork or even an accent can all be good talking points.

Ask questions - Asking questions gives you a chance to learn more about your interviewer and the company you’re interviewing for. It also gives you a breather from talking and can be a good way to learn more about things you may have in common with your interviewer. It shows you have a high interest in them, the role and the company. It is important to ask open-ended questions that require more than a “yes” or “no” answer as this will help create conversation. Some examples would be:
“What do you enjoy most about working for the business?”
“How did the firm cope with COVID?”
“This office location is amazing! What are your favourite restaurants nearby?”
Don’t talk too much - Whilst it is important you converse with your interviewer, make sure you don’t take over the interview. Asking questions and talking about things you have in common is important, however, your interview will have a time allocation and you don’t want to go over this. If you see your interviewer looking at their watch or phone, you may want to consider the length of your answers.
Converse with your interviewer - Your interviewer will be experienced at asking open-ended questions. While a lot of these will be work-related questions, make sure you don’t miss the opportunity to converse with them on personal things. They will ask questions such as “Did you find us ok?”, “How is your week going?”. (Be concise and positive).Whilst you don’t want to overshare, make sure you’re not giving one-word answers. Be prepared to answer very open questions like “tell us about yourself’ and “what do you like to do outside of work”. Make sure your social media accounts are either on private or reflect the answers you give.
Here at Tyler Wren, we interview people on a daily basis and come across both good and bad examples daily. We are able to provide advice and help with interview preparation to help you perform on the day.

If you need any assistance or advice, please reach out to us here at Tyler Wren as we are always happy to help.
Ben Holloway | +64 9 930 8520 | bholloway@tylerwren.co.nz