The Keys to Conversation During an Interview

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The Keys to Conversation During an Interview

This guest blog was written by Elizabeth S. from Mizzou, a strategic communications major with a minor in psychology. Twitter: @solomoneg

I’m sitting in my Poli Sci class, daydreaming of course, when I realized something. Maybe knowing about political science, as boring as I think it is, could actually be a good thing. I’m not talking about good for the real world; I’m talking about good for getting internships. In fact, when I thought about it more, my anthropology class could come in handy, too. And my journalism classes. Why? They’re all good conversation topics.

I was watching random America’s Next Top Model reruns the other day and in one of the episodes, the girls were dressed up and sent to a social event. They had to converse with the people at the party and slip in little tidbits about their fashions and do lots of designer-name dropping. Of course it’s a shameless plug for said designers, but that’s not the point. Some of these girls had no idea what to do. They were awkward in conversation, they didn’t know how to ask questions about the person to who they were talking, or they didn’t say anything about themselves (and nobody can relate to someone who doesn’t divulge anything about him or herself). This relates perfectly to interviewing for internships and jobs— if you can’t converse well with your interviewer, how will they notice the amount of well-rounded knowledge and charisma you have? Here are some tips:

- Learn a little bit about a lot of topics— especially sports, girls! Your interviewer, in most cases, has an equal chance of being a man or a woman so you need to be prepared. Learn a little bit about politics (although be careful when sharing your opinions and always be respectful of the other person’s), about science, about computers, about anything. If the person interviewing you has a swordfish on the front of their desk, ask if he or she likes fishing and talk about it a bit. If the interviewer has sports memorabilia on the wall, talk with them about the players or the team he or she likes.

- Relate to your interviewer. If he or she has pictures of family on the desk, ask about the kids or the parents or the brother. Always talk about how adorable the children are, and ask what they like to do or how old they are. People love talking about themselves, so make it easy for them.

- Know when to talk about yourself… and when not to. If the interviewer asks you about yourself, give an answer and elaborate on it. However, don’t go on and on for 10 minutes about an experience from your childhood. Make the stories shortened to get to the point as quickly as possible. Also, try to keep the conversation light, unless the position for which you are interviewing would benefit from a negative experience you’ve had.

- Talk to match your résumé. This may sound weird, but think about it. If your résumé is very businesslike, sit up a little straighter in your chair and give a firm handshake. Keep smiling, but don’t make your interview one big running joke. If you’re applying for a graphic design or other art-related internship, your résumé might have a less conventional layout. Let your out-of-the-box personality show!