Small Talk Can Be Huge– How to Perfect Your Pre-Interview Banter
Interviews can be intimidating and those moments before getting into the nitty gritty about why you're the most qualified person for the gig can be nerve-wracking. Your palms are sweaty, butterflies are holding the Olympic Games in your belly, and the "what ifs?" running through your head could make a sane person feel like they've gone off the rocker.
All you want to do is ace the interview, but now, studies have shown that you must be skilled in more than rattling off your resume highlights and future goals. It's time to become a small talk expert, because the little things count as much as your educational and career milestones.
But what if talking about last night's baseball game score or the 75% chance of thunderstorms isn't you're forte? If small talk isn't your big talent, you don't have to throw in the towel. You can improve your ability to chit chat with finesse and ease with some practice for "shooting the breeze." Not only will these skills help nail down the job you want, but you'll always be comfortable around groups or individuals you've just met at work functions, parties, and other social events.
Now's your chance to become a small talk aficionado who will be able to work your charm to impress your future employer. Because as per Harvard Business Review, they'll be able to get a "valid idea about your personality, trustworthiness, and intelligence, as well as a sneak peek at how you will perform on the job," thanks to the ice-breakers and what you may perceive to be "superficial" pre-interview questions.
Show Genuine Interest
No matter the topic, be it the potted plant in the corner of the office or the latest news on the presidential campaign, be sure to be engrossed in the conversation with genuine interest in what the other person is saying and in how you communicate. Ask questions to show you care about how the interviewer feels and to learn a little about them too.
As per Business Insider, "If you don't fundamentally care about the person you are speaking with, that will show." Just like your future employer wants you to be passionate about the job at hand, he or she will want to see your legitimate interest in other aspects of socializing and being a well-rounded person as well. A few bits of small talk done right can be the difference between you or someone else landing the gig when all other factors are on equal footing.
Small talk leaves open the possibility to cover endless topics. The more well-read and up-to-date with the current climate and news cycle you are, the better prepared you'll be for engaging in various areas of small talk. As per Bernardo J. Carducci, Ph.D., director of the Shyness Research Institute at Indiana University, as posted on Real Simple, "To keep your conversation timely and lively, scan newspaper headlines and movie and book reviews." Business Insider adds to "include the news sections that don't really interest you," as well. You never know what topic may be brought up, so at least a baseline knowledge of the issue is better than no information at all.
In addition, learn all you can about the interviewer and the company you're interviewing with pre-interview. You won't come across as eager for the job or even a respectable candidate if you aren't well-informed about the company, their values, and their milestones. This knowledge is the bridge that connects small talk with the heavy-hitting interview questions.
As per Huffington Post, "It's wise to keep your small talk focused on the bright side. Whether it's offering a meaningful compliment, asking someone about their day or even making someone laugh, you'll be starting a deeper conversation that won't leave you both feeling worse than when you started." And Business Insider adds, "Try to make everyone you talk with feel a little better about themselves after having met and talked to you," and that goes for the person who's interviewing you too.
Always be honest, hopeful, and relatable. Those qualities are important for an employer to see in a future employee. You'll want to walk out of your interview leaving the person you've spoken with feeling like the time spent with you was worthwhile, whether or not they're prepared to offer you the job. While you may not be right for that particular role, a positive attitude can pave the way for a recommendation for another position or a call back in the future. It will also give you leverage if you're chosen for a position and you're negotiating salary or other benefits.
These tips will help with small talk, but one way to nail it is by practicing as much as possible. Be more assertive in social settings and put these techniques to use before the big interview. Soon, small talk will come smoothly and you'll be ready to ace your interview from any angle!
Every time payday rolls around, I’m on top of the world. Jeff Bezos-level rich - even though I’m anything but. And then somehow the very next day, rent is due.
The cycle continues. The next payday, bills for my apartment. I find myself without a surplus of savings since I just moved and newly-furnished my apartment completely.
Even more terrifying is the looming presence of the holiday season. Halloween’s officially over and before we know it, hello Thanksgiving…and then there’s Hanukkah, Christmas, New Year’s. It’s insane.
I’ve been feeling very British lately. Not in a Union-Jack-obsessed, “Keep Calm and Carry-On” way. I went through that phase in 2012 with everyone else… no thank you. And it’s not even a surge of patriotism catalyzed by the Queen dying — I’m firmly team Diana and team Meghan.
Now that fall is officially here, the holidays will sweep in and I’ll have to contend with the fact that I won’t be spending them with my family in the UK. I went home to London earlier this year, so there’s not much left in my travel budget for another trip across the pond. A few domestic jaunts might be in my future, but the closest I’ll get to England this winter is watching Love Island and Love, Actually.
So in that spirit, I’ve been filling my days with content from my favorite Brits. I’m listening to all the old British rock bands I grew up listening to, patiently awaiting the new Arctic Monkeys album, and rewatching anything with Michaela Coel in it. I even shipped myself an order of British Baked Beans, so you know it’s dire.
I’ve also been watching British YouTubers like Grace Beverley — my favorite. Generally, I only go on YouTube to watch Vogue Beauty Secrets and AD Open Door videos. But I’m so glad I stumbled on Grace. Her content is a mix of London lifestyle (what lured me in), relatable entrepreneurship, and mindful productivity. I’m not a hustle-and-grind-girlboss, but as a creative person in a 9-to-5, I need all the help I can get to stay plugged in. So, the video “how to be really really really productive without getting overwhelmed” changed my approach to WFH.
Grace outlines her own productivity method: the to-do table. Instead of making a simple to-do list, she divides her tasks into a table that anyone can follow. As someone who’s survived with to-do lists for years, I recently implemented Grace’s method, and it’s revolutionized my workdays.
how to be really really really productive without getting overwhelmedwww.youtube.com
I follow her routine to a tee. Here’s how it works:
Essentially, she divides her daily responsibilities into four categories: quick ticks, tasks, projects, and non-negotiables.
- Quick Ticks: Actions that take less than 5-minutes
- Tasks: To-do’s that take up to 30-minutes. Probably don’t take too much brain energy.
- Projects: Long-term list items. These help guide your priorities, even if you’re not crossing them off in one day.
- Non-negotiables: Pick 3 things each day that you must get done. This is how you’ll truly measure success.
With everything written down and sorted, next address your schedule. Meetings, deadlines, and time blocks — whatever works best for you. Write it down. Then make a pact with yourself to stick to them.
This way of categorization provides a roadmap for prioritizing your day — making you far more productive. Have you ever spent the entire day on small tasks and then suddenly realized you hadn’t moved the needle on any task? Or do you spend way too much time on tasks that aren’t a priority? No more. With your non-negotiables laid out, you know what to laser-focus on and what to dedicate energy towards.
Also, it pays to know your working style. I’m not a morning person. Yet, I have to be up and at ‘em super early. So, first thing in the morning, I march through my Quick Ticks to warm me up. I set a time limit, so I can knock out some easy wins which is totally inspiring. Then I move on to bigger things without lingering on emails or admin. For others, it might be more helpful to tackle the big things with all that early-in-the-day brain power earlier.
Grace has great tips on avoiding overwhelm and burnout. My favorite is taking more intentional breaks rather than scrolling through social media. I call this scrolling “productive” because I’m “coming up with pitches.” Oh, the lies we tell ourselves. It’s more productive in the long run to giving my brain a break with non-screen related stimuli.
Grace’s solution? Set a timer to read a real, an actual book. I’ve never thought of this. It’s a genius way to check off some books on my TBR and kickstart my creativity. After reading a good book, I’m completely inspired to write. So having books near my desk helps me step away from the computer during my lunch break for an actual reset. (And yes, the current books I’m reading are by British authors: Assembly by Natasha Brown, and Love in Color: Mythical Tales from Around the World, Retold by Bolu Babalolu.)
In my pursuit of switching out my WFH set-up and getting my life together, I’ve engineered my workstation for success. With my new WFH essentials and Grace’s productivity technique, I’m revitalized for work — despite the fall blues and my melancholy about the pending holidays.
Here are the things getting me hyped for work and helping me crush my Grace Beverley-inspired to-do tables — no lists in sight:
Pack your bags — Southwest Airlines is having a major sale! Fares are as low as $59 one-way if you book by October 3rd.
This end-of-summer super sale is a game-changer for your travel plans through the end of the year. Summertime travel gets all the glory. But why not take advantage of your long weekends, holidays, and PTO this fall. You’ll be surprised at how much travel you can fit in. Keep the fall/winter season exciting with domestic trips that give you all the excitement without breaking the bank. All thanks to Southwest.
Here’s the breakdown:
Where can you go?
You’ll find discounted tickets to and from most airports. Sale fares apply to cross country travel, and even Hawaii, Mexico, and the Caribbean! Whether you’re visiting a new city or revisiting your last beach vacation, this sale has fares to make your travel dreams come true.
What do the fares cover?
Southwest Airlines has multiple fare tiers, each with various benefits. Wanna Get Away fares start at $59, while Wanna Get Away Plus fares start at $89. You can also find great deals on Anytime fares, which offer priority boarding and express lanes. Then there’s Business Select tickets for a luxe experience at an affordable price point.
Do you have to be a Southwest Rapid Rewards member?
You may think these sale fares are too good to be true. Is there a catch? Do you have to be a Southwest Rapid Rewards member to access them? You’re in luck — anyone can attain these fares for a limited time.
But, insider tip, you should consider signing up for Southwest Rapid Rewards. With a free sign up, you earn points and miles with each trip you take. And with this sale, each dollar you spend on these discounted tix can stretch super far until you eventually earn free travel. The only thing better than a sale is free stuff.
I’ve been browsing the Southwest Airlines site, checking out flights and dreaming.