How to Help Make an Interview a Conversation

by | Dec 19, 2022 | Interviewing

There is a lot of material out there for interviewers, to help them understand why a conversational type of interview is much more productive. The days of an interview being a one-way interrogation should be long over, but it still exists in many situations. A candidate may think they are helpless in creating the format and tone of their interview with a Hiring Manager. This assumption, however, is incorrect, as a job seeker can certainly assist in the movement of the discussion towards more of a conversation.

A conversational interview should certainly be the goal as opposed to a confrontational type of situation. In a conversation, both parties are more relaxed and likely to provide thoughtful answers and overall banter. This type of interview leads to a give/take in the exchanging of thoughts and questions, allowing both parties to get a better read of each other.

Every candidate should go into an interview hopeful that the Hiring Manager is savvy enough to understand the power of conversation and will interview in this manner. The job seeker, however, can (through their behavior) help manage this situation towards the desired outcome. Let’s go over what you can do to help make the interview more conversational.

• Engage In Small Talk: A Hiring Manager will almost always start the interview with some type of “small talk” about the weather, traffic, or perhaps the Buffalo Bills. You can help set the tone of the interview by eagerly engaging the Hiring Manager in this endeavor. While you don’t want to monopolize your limited time in “small talk”, providing more detailed answers than “no problem”, “good”, etc. will not only make you feel more at ease, but will do the same for the Hiring Manager.

• Start Strong: The better the answers you give early, the more likely the Hiring Manger will get a positive first impression and change their tone. If you struggle by giving long-winded and vague answers with the first couple of questions, you are likely to get more of the same or even tougher questions. If you start off really strong, then you are likely to see a change in the interviewer since they found out immediately that you have at least a base line of competence for the position.

• Be Prepared: The preparation you put in prior to the interview will pay off significantly in this area. The more prepared you are, the more concise and specific your answers are likely to be. The sooner you can get through the standard core questions that everyone gets asked, then the quicker you can transition to a conversation that could help you differentiate yourself. Your preparation work will also cause you to feel more prepared in the interview and more like yourself. When you are less nervous, then naturally your body language changes from tense to that of a more approachable type, especially if you make eye contact and smile.

• Develop Your Own Questions: By asking your own questions, you are turning a one-sided discussion into a back/forth conversation. So, do your research about the company and study the job posting in order to create questions that will not only provide you answers that you need, but also force the Hiring Manager to talk. Also, just like an Interviewer would, try to ask questions in an open-ended and probing way to facilitate more talking. If you can, try to insert some questions or follow-ups of your own during and not just at the end of the interview. In particular, if you can ask the interviewer about themselves and their time in the organization, then this almost surely will spur some conversation. With all of this, not only will the interviewer be impressed with the preparation work you put into your questions, but the tone of the interview closing will change immensely.

The key to an interview is to place yourself in a situation where you can communicate why you are the best person for the role. This differentiation of yourself from your competition is most easily done when the dialogue between the hiring party and the candidate is more conversational in style and tone. Don’t, however, think that you are helpless in creating this type of format. What you do, especially your behavior early on in the appointment, can be critical in your establishment of a conversation.

As always, the best of luck in your job search.

The following has been prepared for the general information of WNYJobs readers. It is not meant to provide advice with respect to any specific legal or policy matter and should not be acted upon without verification by the reader.

Joe Stein WNY Human Resources Professional

Feel free to contact Joe Stein regarding questions or comments at: Joe Stein

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