Job interviewers don't want to hear about your ingrown toenail. Instead, topics to talk about during an interview should revolve only around the role for which you're applying. Even little interview details, such as how you greet the receptionist and the confidence of your "hello," can make a big first impression. Keep a few topics in mind, and you're sure to have something to say, no matter which direction the interview takes.
Don't discount the importance of small talk. It's a rare interview that doesn't have some general chat before the grilling begins. Easygoing small talk helps to show you're a normal person who can shoot the breeze. If you're a sports fan, last night's results or upcoming games can get you by with sports-fan interviewers. Major news events or extreme weather also work -- but steer clear of politics or religion. Both of these are too controversial for a workplace interview.
Obviously, it pays to know about a company's mission, style and products before you attend an interview. Turning up to a soft drink manufacturer and asking how they make sneakers never goes down well. Scour the company website for information. Maybe it's been in the news recently, or something significant has happened that could affect the business. If you can pick topics directly relevant to the company, you're onto a winner.
Talking about yourself is a tricky proposition. For example, your tendency to dance on tables after a few cocktails probably isn't a wise topic. However, talking about hobbies can prove you're a rounded, interesting person. For example, if you're a rock climber, it shows a level of dedication and determination. If you play in a local hockey team, it shows you work well with others and can pull together for the good of the whole. But, if your hobby is collecting old bottle tops, you might skip that topic.
Your interviewer is bound to trot out a version of the "Where do you see yourself in five years?" question at some point. So, it helps to have some topics in mind about where you see your career heading. This also fits nicely with topics that address your skills and abilities. It's not a chance to brag. Instead, think of a few situations that show your strengths, such as a time when you've led a team to success or made real improvements on a work project.
Based near London, U.K., Peter Mitchell has been a journalist and copywriter for over eight years. Credits include stories for "The Guardian" and the BBC. Mitchell is an experienced player and coach for basketball and soccer teams, and has written articles on nutrition, health and fitness. He has a First Class Bachelor of Arts (Hons.) from Bristol University.