Top 10 Strategies for Making Conversation in an Interview

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 31 May 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.

How you prepare for an interview can have a tremendous impact on the impression you make on the interviewer and their assessment of your candidacy. While the interview is a formal engagement, approaching the meeting like a conversation with a friend can make it a more relaxing and enjoyable experience for both parties. Understanding how to treat an interview like a conversation rather than a test can make the flow more natural, help you maintain your composure throughout the meeting and identify insightful questions that show your critical thinking skills and passion for the job.

In this article, we discuss the importance of making conversation in an interview and describe how to achieve it.

Importance of making conversation in an interview

It's essential to have a conversation in an interview rather than treating the meeting as a question-and-answer session because it can make the experience more enjoyable for both parties. When you have a conversation with your interviewer, you can use the opportunity to build a rapport with them and reveal a bit about your personality. That way, the flow of the discussion becomes natural instead of the methodical asking and answering of questions typical of most interviews. Because you're having a conversation with the interviewer, you're likely to feel less stressed when articulating your thoughts to answer questions.

Less stress means you can control nervousness and provide insightful responses that show your communications skills and in-depth knowledge about the role and the company's expectations of the ideal candidate. Having an enjoyable interaction with an interviewer can also give you an advantage over other candidates. First, the quality of your answers may likely be more memorable. By showing your positive personal attributes during the interview, the hiring manager may also assume you to be a person fun to work with and this can motivate them to consider your application more favourably.

How to turn a job interview into a conversation

Here are 10 strategies you can use to make your job interview like a conversation:

1. Research the role and employer

If you want to have a meaningful conversation with your interviewer, research the company and the role you're applying for before the interview. Check the job description, the company career page and their social media accounts for information about the role and the organisation. Doing this gives you valuable talking points about the specific credentials, including skills, experiences and professional training, required for the role. It can also reveal the company's mission, vision, values and organisational culture and the type of people they want as employees.

Researching the role allows you to talk authoritatively about how you can leverage your qualifications to add value to the company. If you know the interviewer, it's also advisable to research them so you can build rapport with them during the interview. You can review their biography on the company website or their social media profiles and professional networks. Find out about their work experience, roles, job functions and personal interests. These details can help you connect with them easily from the beginning of the interview and set a positive tone for the rest of the engagement.

2. Relax and stay optimistic

Being confident and relaxed is a good way to make your interview feel like a friendly conversation. This makes it essential to do your research so you can speak confidently about how your experience and achievements make you the ideal fit for the role. Being relaxed requires more than knowing what to say, though. Some people suddenly become nervous when they reach the interview venue because they assume the worst is going to happen.

Practise answering the likely interview questions and remember to remain optimistic. Also, prepare adequately for the interview so you don't become disorientated before reaching the venue. Choose your attire the night before the interview and get a good night's rest, so you're feeling refreshed in the morning. Eat a healthy breakfast to energise your body and get to the venue on time so you can regain your composure and be in the right mind frame for the interview.

Related: How to Prepare for an Interview

3. Introduce yourself properly and make small talk

When you meet the interviewer, greet the person cheerfully and address them by their name. Before diving into the interview, it's important to make small talk to build a connection with the interviewer. Small talk allows you to use the things you know about the interviewer and the company to dictate the tone and pace of the conversation. It's an opportunity to show your personality and demonstrate your ability to engage in an enjoyable conversation. Doing this can make the interviewer become less formal and may lead to a mutually beneficial discussion between two professionals.

Related: 133 Effective Conversation Starters for Various Scenarios

4. Use positive body language

Nonverbal cues, such as facial expressions and body language, can help you connect with the interviewer and make them take you seriously. For example, maintaining eye contact for a brief period while responding to the interviewer's questions can show confidence and make you more believable. Smiling, leaning in towards the interviewer and nodding to their conversation can also show you're paying attention and listening actively to them. Observe the interviewer's body language, tone and level of formality during the interview to calibrate your responses so you can better match their rhythm.

5. Practise active listening

Effective communication requires letting the other person speak. To make this conversation as fruitful as possible, allow the interviewer to speak while you listen actively. Doing this is professional etiquette that can leave a good impression on the hiring manager. Listening actively to the interviewer also allows you to gain valuable insights from the discussion and prepare convincing responses.

It's not advisable to interrupt the interviewer. Let them finish talking before asking questions or requesting clarifications. If the interviewer is speaking at length before you can respond, you can use short affirmations such as "I agree" or "I see" to show you're listening and following the conversation. Reducing interruptions to the barest minimum allows the conversation to flow naturally and gives the participants the opportunity to articulate their thoughts properly on issues.

6. Personalise your experience

Adding personality to your responses during the interview can make it easier for the hiring manager to relate to you as an individual. While an interview requires some level of formality, avoid making the discussion robotic and overly formal. Infuse your personality into the interaction by supporting your answers with real-life examples from previous roles. That way, the interviewer can better visualise you in their role.

What's important is to own your successes and demonstrate your ability to transfer previous achievements to the current role. For example, the interviewer can talk about issues they had with unreliable vendors in the past. In your response, you can describe a vetting system you created in a previous role that helped improve the supply chain and the positive impacts it had on your employer's business.

7. Be spontaneous

One reason many candidates can't make conversation during an interview is that they memorised their answers. This makes their responses rigid and monotonous. To add flair to your discussion with the hiring manager, it's important for your answers to be spontaneous. This makes it vital to practise various ways of answering interview questions. That way, you can articulate responses based on the specific details, context and nuance of the questions.

One way to make your responses interesting is to use the STAR method, which stands for situation, task, action and result. For each question, you describe a relevant situation, the task you wanted to complete, the set of actions and skills you used to complete the activity and the result achieved. This technique is excellent for answering situational questions and allows you to provide comprehensive responses that showcase your skills, experiences and achievements while giving the interviewer the chance to ask follow-up questions.

Related: What are Scenario Questions in an Interview? (With Examples)

8. Give honest answers

Be honest when responding to interview questions. If a question is challenging, you can ask for clarification so you have a better understanding of what the hiring person wants to hear. Asking for clarifications can also give you a few more seconds to digest the question and develop an appropriate answer.

9. Ask questions

To make your interview a two-way conversation, it's important to ask questions throughout the meeting. You can come prepared with a list of questions you developed from your research of the position and the company. Asking spontaneous questions based on the flow of the discussion can also make the meeting engaging and more interactive. It can also show your communication and critical thinking skills.

Related: Interviewing Skills to Ace a Job Interview

10. Be direct

Give responses that are of the right length and depth. If your responses are too long or deviate from the main point of the question, the interviewer may lose interest and conclude you don't know what you're saying. Short, direct responses that quickly answer the hiring manager's questions are best for maintaining engagement during an interview.

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