Nail Your Next Interview with Smart Small Talk: LinkedIn Career Expert Series

October 10, 2016

After weeks of submitting job applications, you finally land an interview with your dream company. You have the basics covered -- what to wear, how to talk about your experiences, questions to ask. But are you ready for the inevitable small talk? A recent study featured in Harvard Business Review found that people who interview you do indeed judge you by your small-talk skills. To prepare for this informal chit chat, here are some tips on using LinkedIn to make a good first impression.

  1. Find common ground through shared professional contacts. Check out your interviewers’ LinkedIn profiles to see if you have any connections in common. Maybe both of you shared the same vendor or boss at some point? Highlighting shared connections helps reinforce the depth of your professional network.

  2. Show that you’ve done your homework and you are well versed on industry trends. If your interviewer has published an article or shared an update on LinkedIn, it’s likely a topic that they care about. For example, if you work in technology and they’ve commented on AI, that’s a great topic to discuss.

  3. Find out what school they went to. The hiring manager may have gone to the same school or your rival school. Bonding over that big football game is another way to find common ground.

  4. See where they’ve volunteered. Check out the Volunteer Experiences section of your interviewers’ profile to see what they are passionate about, and ask them about it. Maybe you both participated in an event for the American Cancer Society or are both passionate about the Make a Wish Foundation.

  5. Know what the company is proud of. Take a look at the company’s LinkedIn Company Page to see what they’ve shared recently, then discuss. Every hiring manager wants to know that the candidate is invested in the company’s long term interests and culture. Chances are there are lots of good candidates interviewing for the position, so make sure you show your interest in the company itself.

  6. Bring up what you admire about the company’s culture. LinkedIn’s newly released Career Pages are a great place to learn more about the company’s culture, and even includes recent articles by employees at the company to give you a first hand look at what it’s like to work there.

  7. Follow the company’s executives on LinkedIn. If the company has social media savvy executives, follow them on LinkedIn to stay up-to-date on company initiatives or passion projects that you can bring up during your interview.

Small talk during interviews doesn’t have to be awkward. All it takes is a little research on LinkedIn to perfect your small-talk skills. If you’re still looking for your next gig, signal you’re open to new opportunities and explore job opportunities in your network on LinkedIn.