The Art of Conversation
Often when we talk about interviews what can be lost is the “art of conversation.” So much time is spent on making sure you’re doing it “right” than the fact that in the end that it is at the heart a conversation between two people can be lost. Thinking back to my interview trail, my most memorable and likely most beneficial interviews were the ones were I truly was able to have a conversation with my interviewer–when it left the realm of interrogator and interrogated and became a two-way conversation with both of us learning during the conversation. I give the example of the school I ended up attending, admittedly one interview didn’t cover any aspect of my application. We spent the entire time talking about my alma mater, sports and politics. The interviewer learned about me as a person, no longer was I just a series of numbers and activities but a person that they could see as a future colleague. That’s truly your goal in the interview to standout and be someone who your interview would not only want to talk to, but to work with.
I realize doing this can sometimes seem difficult, but here a couple of pointers that can hopefully keep you grounded in making sure each interview is a memorable conversation
1) Listen. Being a keen listener can help you in picking up on key points that can lead you down the road to having a 2 way conversation rather than just a question and response session
2) Practice. Practice listening, but also practice having conversations with new people outside of the interview room. Whether this is in the airport on your way to your interview, in the grocery store line, or talking to your mom on the phone—practicing the art of conversation will help you perfect this skill
3) Plan. For each interview, think about something you’d like to learn from your interviewer. Keeping this in mind gives you an easier opening to your two-way conversation
4) Have Fun. Remember every interviewer is a person and started off as an interviewee just like you, so try to enjoy the time talking with someone new and remember someday you’ll be on the other side of the table 🙂