Whether you number among the ranks of the unemployed, or you are about to separate from your employer due to a downsizing, or even if you are “putting out feelers” in the name of career advancement, our continuing series concerning interview tips will be of benefit to you. Today’s tip is often overlooked, yet can be critical to the success of your interview.
Watch the Small Talk. Provided he or she has the luxury of time, the savvy interviewer may wish to engage you in small talk. Our well-considered advice, based upon nearly thirty years of professional experience, is to be prepared for this eventually, and well prepared. The rationale behind this latest of our interview tips is this: on an interview, small talk can have huge ramifications. If you have established a rapport with the hiring manager and the interview appears to be going well, you may have begun to drop your guard. Take care in how far you drop it. While Equal Employment Opportunity legislation was enacted to protect potential employees from discrimination on virtually every level, prospective employers will still try to extract information from you beyond questions that blatantly telegraph infringement of these laws. They do so in order to minimize risk to their corporations as well as to reduce risk to themselves, associated with their decision to hire you.
Particular targets of this type of “small talk” are moms, women of childbearing age, and older applicants. Moms and women of childbearing age are often viewed as a greater risk than the general candidate population because of the potential for maternity leave or care of school-age children home because of illness or days off. Older applicant face the prospect of age discrimination, as younger applicants are viewed as more cost-effective in terms of salary, as well as more flexible in their thinking than their more mature counterparts. When engaging in “small talk” on interviews, then, know in which direction and for how long to take what may appear at first glance to be light-hearted banter.
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