Interviewing for a job can be a little intimidating, like taking your first driver's test or applying for your first home mortgage. Usually the interviewer begins and carries the conversation by asking tons of questions, but sometimes you're the one who needs the icebreaker to get the discussion going and help both the interviewer and yourself feel more comfortable. Maintaining professionalism is a must, so keep your focus on the company's needs and your qualifications as an applicant. Otherwise, your icebreaker might cause you to slip through the cracks.
Recent Company Events
Discussing a recent company event, such as the release of a new product or service, is a positive way to break the ice. You might say, "Have you received feedback about the new stainless steel toaster you launched last month?" Follow up with a comment that explains why you asked, such as, "I was the lead designer for the last three toasters at my previous place of employment." Breaking the ice with conversation about what's currently going on at the company shows the interviewer that you're up to date on recent company events and promotions. Discussing recent company events requires extensive homework -- it's important to get the details right. Whether the company provides a service or a product to consumers, study its recent history in newspapers, in trade magazines or on its website. Search for online reviews, and ask about trends you may see.
Ask a question about something you read on the company website. Expressing genuine interest in the company's clients, services or history shows the hiring manager that you're serious about the position. Breaking the ice with, "I read on your website that you're offering low mortgage interest rates. Are the majority of your clients interested in refinancing or looking to obtain new mortgages?" Or, "Has it been a difficult transition for your store to begin exporting to international locations?" Avoid topics that are too general, such as the hours of operation or driving directions. You don't want to bore the interviewer with information that's dull and uninspiring.
If the interviewer doesn't seem interested in small talk, jump right into details about your interest in the position. According to East Carolina University's "Job Fairs and Interviews" web page, this ice breaking strategy allows you to offer your best sales pitch for the job. You might say, "You're probably wondering why I'd be a good fit for this job. Let me tell you about some of my strengths and previous experience in this field." Keep your comments short and specific. Focus on work-related accomplishments, feedback from former employers, positive interactions with coworkers, successful client relationships and previous assignments. As long as you're humble, polite and honest, it's acceptable to discuss your best qualities. Don't forget your body language -- it reveals just how interested you are in the position. Remember to smile and make eye contact while using your best icebreaker, even if it's a little awkward at first.
Questions About the Position
Asking relevant questions about the position is a most-appropriate way to break the ice. Start the discussion with, "Before we begin the interview, I was wondering if I could ask a few questions about the position." Follow up with questions about the permanency of the position, it's full- or part-time work requirements or how quickly the company plans to fill the position. This icebreaker tactic is an ideal way for you to learn valuable information about the job -- information that might help you determine whether you want to take the job if it's offered to you.
As curriculum developer and educator, Kristine Tucker has enjoyed the plethora of English assignments she's read (and graded!) over the years. Her experiences as vice-president of an energy consulting firm have given her the opportunity to explore business writing and HR. Tucker has a BA and holds Ohio teaching credentials.