When meeting with new client/interviewer/ etc… I’m always opening with the following LAME topics: -Weather. “Too bad it cant rain during the workweek instead, were you able to still enjoy the weekend?” -Sports. “I’m not really a sports guy, so before a meeting i will browse through the sports headlines” IH8, Nice to meet you, “likewise, thank you for the time in meeting with me”. oh no problem at all, … Well lets talk about the position/meeting etc. I need something to fill in the large space above…
I always wait for them to ask “did you find the place ok”, then I can always bring up how i’m familiar with the area because of a nice restaurant/etc and go into that. It’s those lead in starters i need. " i thought I was going to be late because of the construction going on down there… i cant believe how many condos are being built these days" then talk about real estate etc…
“Sorry i’m late, I was posting on analystforum…”
i hate small talk so i’ll usually throw out feelers to find if we have something in common so the conversation can take a slightly more substantive turn. i’ll usually make small talk about the markets/top business news (whatever the economic news of the day is, company announcements, big m&a transactions,etc) since it feels less banal than weather, sports,etc. gotta make sure to keep it casual though so ppl don’t think youre just one dimensional and can only talk about markets all day. another popular topic for me is new york city-related activities since i love the city and do tons of these and almost everyone i talk to (assuming this convo is happening in NYC) will be able to relate when talking about popular concerts/museums/restaurants/etc in the city.
Ask them what they did on the weekend. Then talk about what they did, and ask them questions and stuff.
Keep your eyes open - look around the office of the person interviewing (or the larger office). Then pick up on cues - do they have kids, trophies, nicknacks, etc… For instance, if they have something related to running, comment on it and say something like “I noticed the trophy - I was wondering - are there any good places to run/work out around here?”
I have had someone ask “tell me something interesting about each of you” at a group meeting and went with “I am hands down the biggest a$$hole in this room” I find that something that is entertaining and a little out there is far better than something safe and boring. I hate safe and boring people. They make for lousy colleagues.
When I am being sold something I don’t like inane small talk. A hedge fund manager once got up from his seat in my office and started browsing through my business card collection pointing out the people that he knew. Not the right way to endear yourself to someone you just met. I prefer a quick 1-2 minute discussion about the weather, how long they’re in town, something about current news events, etc., and then on to business. When I get to know them then I am happy to share my business card collection, private emails, underwear designs, etc.
My view on smalltalk is that it should be done as a courtesy, but need not be remembered (unless you happen to have something truly insightful to say, in which case it probably isn’t considered “small” talk anymore). Everyone is there for a reason and there simply is no need to be passing time at the start of an interview. I think it’s best to keep idle chat to a minimum. If I’m the interviewee, I’ll wait for cues from the interviewer; if it seems like I need to be the one that engages in the conversation first (not often the case, but sometimes), I’ll usually just get the ball rolling by asking them how their day is going or making a positive comment about something, like how nice the office is, how I’m happy to be there, how the markets are doing well (this one is hard to say with much credibility these days), and so forth. I’d rather comment on something innocuous or unimportant, than be remembered for saying something contrived or inane. Of course, if I notice something in the office where I can establish a sense of commonality, I’ll definitely bring it up. There are certain things I feel comfortable speaking credibly about (such as classical music, popular culture, and professional sports), but if I can’t establish common ground that way, I don’t try too hard. In general, I don’t have anything too “genius” to contribute when it comes to smalltalk, but I don’t think that’s what smalltalk preceding an interview is about. I’m more concerned about creating an upbeat, energetic, and pleasant environment, rather than trying to come up with anything too profound. It’s all about setting the right mood.
“Wow! I’d love to work here. Is your assistant single?”. (actually, I did have an (informational) interview where the guy said, “isn’t she smokin’?” and, well, I did have to agree, though I felt a little weird about it)
When I meet with someone in my office, people usually initiate small talk when they quickly notice my proudly displayed University of Miami diploma & Miami Hurricanes/ Red Sox/ Patriots/ Celtics paraphernalia.
religion and politics
Actually i do have a funny story about small talk with an HR guy. This guy wasn’t your typical HR rep he looked like Bobby Baccala (sp?) from the sopranoes – anyway he asks me where i grew up, and when i told him (it’s a very small town), he told me that his father owned a deli in town. I asked about the deli and whether he ever spent time up there. He told me he didn’t and that the deli was given to his father from someone who owed him money???
I guess I’m a natural small-talker, though I don’t really think of myself as one. My main issue is that after the small-talk goes on for a few minutes, I want to be careful that it doesn’t drag out too long. But there’s almost always something interesting about the place you’re going to, maybe it’s got lots of mahogany wood around, or maybe it looks like you’re a rat running through a maze for some cheese in a psychology experiment, or maybe the window has a great view, or maybe the company was splattered all over the front page of WSJ that day (as happened to me once - and the guy said “do you remember if it was the top half or the bottom half of the front page?”). Or maybe the guy has a photo of his boat on the wall, or his boyfriend, or was that his son? If I can’t think of something to smalltalk about in the 30-60 seconds it takes to get to the interview location, it’s probably a boring place to work.
I usually talk about any hot women around. Then I break out the pics of a guy at work who has a russian nanny…her and her friend in bathing suits.
One thing I learned worked well for me is to repeat the very last thing your client/contact said in his/her sentence, and asked it as questions. “I am from New York orignially.” “Oh, yeah! You are from New York?” “…so my father went into the shoe business” “Oh, yeah! Your father went into the shoe business?” Warning, this can go on for a while.
Oh yeah, how long?
“Hey there! So what do you think about abortion?” (and then play devil’s advocate)
This guy I interviewed with once looked exactly like Ray Romano. Anyways, there were only 2 pictures in the guys office. Both pictures were of this middle age white guy (not the guy interviewing me) and 2 kids. No woman in the picture. Anyways, i was caught off guard by some akward silence and i said " those are’nt your kinds are they", because I really didnt know any other way to word it , so the interviewer said to me “why would’nt they be”… Then before I could answer he started laughing and said " no man, this is’nt even my office, i just brought you in here because this guy is on lunch and my office is being fumigated, you thought i was gay and that was my partner or something"… I didnt know if I should laugh or not so all i said was " hey you never know" I never got called back, but whatever, that place was a disaster anyways
bchadwick Wrote: ------------------------------------------------------- > (actually, I did have an (informational) interview > where the guy said, “isn’t she smokin’?” and, > well, I did have to agree, though I felt a little > weird about it) I have both male and female counterparties ask me this before and I always flash the wedding ring to end that discussion. Great way to escape the question…look into buying a prop ring for these occassions if you’re not married.