How to approach a job interview like a conversation

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 15 June 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Many people consider interviews to be formal meetings with strict codes of conduct. But often, interviews consist of no more than an honest and open conversation with a recruiter or hiring manager. Being aware of how to make your interview feel more like a conversation can reduce stress and help you perform better in front of potential employers. In this article, we outline a guide and tips for how to approach a job interview like a conversation to help you feel more relaxed.

How to approach a job interview like a conversation

It's easy to let the potential stress and formality most people associate with interviews distract you, so it helps to know how to approach a job interview like a conversation. When you learn to focus on the interview as simply a conversation between yourself and the hiring manager, it can make the whole process feel more relaxed. Consider the steps below to assist with approaching your next job interview like a conversation:

1. Research the company

It's important to thoroughly research the company you're being interviewed by as it enables you to have a positive and easy-flowing conversation with the hiring manager. When you have a good understanding of the business and its processes, you feel more confident in engaging and starting conversations with your interviewer. This then directly links to how you can discuss the benefit of adding you to the team. Make sure you study the company's website and social media profiles as part of your research.

If you've looked into the company's background, it allows a connection between you and the interviewer to form in an easier and more natural way. Consider looking up their social media profiles to discover any interests or hobbies they have. You could find you have interests in common that help to create a connection during your meeting. Feeling as though you know the person, including their position in the company and past work experience, prior to your meeting helps to ensure an easy, positive conversation.

Related: A guide on how to ace an interview (with tips and examples)

2. Relax

Interviews feel more casual and less pressured when you can relax as much as possible. One of the best ways to feel relaxed is to fully prepare for the meeting. This includes researching possible questions, practising and studying the role and responsibilities. Consider asking a friend or family member to role-play a few interview scenarios in the run-up to your real interview. This allows you to practise having a casual conversation, whilst still discussing your skills and attributes successfully. Practising the meeting beforehand helps you prepare answers for multiple topics and routes of enquiry.

To relax before your interview, you can also take certain steps to make sure your mind and body are as rested as possible. This helps you think clearly and perform better overall during the conversation. The evening before your interview, eat well and get a full night's sleep so you wake up revitalised for your meeting. Consider completing some exercise before the interview to cope with any nerves or stress. To reduce any anxiety, try meditating or breathing exercises to calm your nerves.

3. Introduce yourself

The best opening to a respectful and positive interview conversation is a confident and friendly introduction. Upon meeting your interviewer, rise to meet them, smile and greet them by name and consider shaking their hand if it feels appropriate. Keep the tone of your voice friendly and positive as you lead into a more in-depth conversation. Remember to make eye contact when greeting them as a sign of respect and friendliness.

As you settle into the conversation, consider adding some friendly anecdotes. This helps to keep the atmosphere casual and open. Perhaps look to discuss your commute into the office, the weather or anything that could be of interest to the interviewer. For example, if you've seen on their social media profile that they're an animal lover, mention an anecdote about your pet. This establishes an instant connection between yourself and the interviewer. It also shows a little more of your personality and interests, which the interviewer is also looking for. Just remember to still keep it professional.

Related: 10 online job interview tips

4. Consider your body language

It's not only your verbal cues and language that determine the atmosphere of an interview but also your body language. The gestures and body language you adopt during your interview can also affect how relaxed and open the conversation is. Focus on paying attention and and listening intently while the interviewer is talking. For example, maintain eye contact, smile frequently and nod occasionally to the various points the interviewer is making.

Take note of the body language and gestures the hiring manager is making and mirror this with your own non-verbal cues. Body language also displays confidence. Ensure you appear open and welcoming by sitting with your legs and arms uncrossed, not too far away from the interviewer. You may be offered a glass of water at the beginning of interviews. Sip the drink regularly to keep you calm and avoid straining your voice. Sipping water also gives you more time to think how to answer.

5. Allow the interviewer to speak

Although an interviewer seeks to find out about a candidate's qualifications and skills, it's also important to give your interviewer time to speak. Allowing this time for an interviewer to contribute to the conversation shows you're patient and a good listener, rather than solely concerned with your own opinions and thoughts. When an interviewer is asking a question, allow them to finish before asking a follow-up question or beginning your response, rather than interrupting them. This lets the conversation flow respectfully and seamlessly.

Allowing the interviewer to talk more also means you can find out more about them and the job role. Giving time for the hiring manager to discuss themselves and the role makes it easier for you to make a connection with them and learn more about your potential employer. This is useful in deciding whether you want to accept a job offer after the interview.

6. Discuss your interests and experiences

The easiest way to find common ground with your interviewer is to discuss common interests, life and work experiences. The more the interviewer shares, the easier it is to uncover shared ideas and views. This also presents you as someone who is friendly and easy to chat with. It shows the hiring manager you're someone most people could enjoy working with.

7. Give honest answers

The key to an open conversation is honesty. Ensure you're open and frank when answering any questions the interviewer poses to you, and when asking questions yourself. Most times, hiring managers are able to identify candidates who are exaggerating or being untruthful within interview scenarios. This paints a negative image of you as a person and makes you less likely to receive a job offer after your interview.

While it's a good idea to prepare and memorise important answers to common interview questions, it's also beneficial to appear spontaneous and not like you're reading a script. This adds an element of your personality to the conversation and shows you have gone beyond sourcing generic answers from the internet. The easiest way to personalise your answers is to draw from your direct experiences. Make your anecdotes as specific as possible to show you have thought carefully about your answers.

Related: 15 signs a job interview went well

8. Respond to all questions fully

To ensure a lengthy and flowing conversation, make sure you answer all questions posed to you fully and considerately. Make sure your answers are more than one sentence long and help to lead to other topics. This also gives you the opportunity to discuss your talents, skills and attributes in a more in-depth way. Answering questions fully displays a level of confidence and shows that you're interested in the conversation with the interviewer.

Be aware of not talking for too long about one topic or in response to a single question. This ensures you keep the interviewer engaged and means you don't miss out on precious time with them to find out more information about the company and share your skills. Take note of their verbal and body language and responses to be aware of when you're taking too long answering a question or not answering them adequately.

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