Careers & Job Skills
Job Search Jargon
By Paige Magarrey
Whether you’re a new grad starting out or a long-time employee looking to make a career change, the job search can be a little overwhelming. Especially when you’re hearing jargon and buzzwords you don’t recognize – but maybe don’t want to admit it.
To help, we compiled a list of words that could use some explaining. Here’s a list of job search jargon you’ve probably heard (but might not understand)
ATS (Applicant tracking system)
Software used by companies to process job applications, track candidates and organize the hiring process. It’s important that seekers keep ATS’s in mind when formatting their resume, as some systems automatically reformat and parse information in unexpected ways. If your resume is overly formatted with tables and columns, or if it’s in a format that the ATS can’t recognize, it might not make it to the hiring manager in one piece.
These interview questions are designed to mine past experiences as a way to indicate future performance. For example, “Can you think of a time when you were not successful? What was the situation? What did you learn from this experience?”
This refers to a company’s collective values, mission, ethics, code of conduct…essentially its personality. Culture will differ depending on the nature of the company and the employees themselves, but it’s always worth researching before you apply to a job – or asking about in the interview.
This might be an obvious one, but it bears repeating: there’s more to compensation than money. It includes direct benefits, like salary and bonuses, as well as indirect benefits, like perks, benefits, time off, and more. When you’re evaluating a job offer (or talking to a potential employer), make sure you’re negotiating the full compensation package, not just salary.
This refers to workers that are hired on an on-demand basis (as opposed to full-time permanent employees). This might include freelancers, contract workers, temporary employees, or consultants.
Hidden job market
This refers to the fact that only a small percentage of job openings (from five to 40 per cent) are posted online or advertised in any way. The rest of the openings are filled through networking, referrals, or other methods.
Employee onboarding covers off everything a company does to welcome a new hire and set them up to succeed. It’s more than basic training – although that’s part of the onboarding process. It starts the moment a candidate accepts a job offer, and can last weeks or even months.
A.k.a. telecommuting, distributed teams, digital workplaces…there’s more than a few ways to describe it, but it’s essentially working outside a traditional office. More and more startups are working with entirely remote teams working across the world and love to extol the benefits – and employees love it too.
These interview questions are the hypothetical counterparts to behavioural questions – they’re designed to evaluate your analytical and problem-solving skills. For example, “You disagree with the way your supervisor wants to handle a problem. What would you do?”
Professionalism, work ethic, and self-confidence are a few examples of the hard-to-measure skills employers are increasingly looking for in candidates. They’re essentially personal attributes – as opposed to more quantifiable “hard” skills like language proficiency or programming certification.
A talent network is essentially a way for seekers to stay up- to-date on your career opportunities: you provide your contact info, or submit your resume to a general inbox, to be notified when relevant openings pop up.
These skills might not be directly related to the job you’re applying to, but can be indirectly considered an asset. They often go hand-in-hand with soft skills, but could also be something like budget management that could transcend a number of different industries and applications.
Want to get more in-depth? There are lots of glossaries out there for specific industries – and a lot of them are worthwhile knowing even if you’re not deep in that industry. Check out these jargon lists for PR, advertising, and tech to really impress your next interviewer.
How to Ace a Group Interview
By Lauren Pelley
Being interviewed for your dream job is stressful enough when it’s one-on-one. But when you’re being grilled alongside other candidates for the same gig – well, that’s even more intense.
For many types of jobs – including teamwork-heavy roles and entry-level positions – group interviews are increasingly common.
Why? Career coach Niya Allen-Vatel says there are a couple key reasons. For one thing, interviewing a group of candidates speeds up the interview process for the company. It also helps the employer gauge how well potential hires interact with others.
But since they’re still not the norm, group interviews can take a toll on the candidates involved.
“It’s definitely stressful, especially for people who are not used to that,” says Allen-Vatel.
If you’re faced with a group interview, how can you stay calm and make a good impression – without stepping on other candidates’ toes?
We asked the experts for their top tips.
Show up early
Being a bit early for any type of job interview is a good idea (so you have time to find your way and collect your thoughts). But Allen-Vatel says it’s particularly crucial for group interviews.
“If you show up early, you’re able to engage with the other interviewees and let your guard down and relax,” she says.
And since the employer is likely keeping an eye on your people skills, that engagement with your fellow job hunters is key.
Being an early bird also gives you a chance to pick the ideal spot. To stand out, candidates should sit front and centre, Allen-Vatel explains. If the interview is set up with multiple rows of chairs, you want to be in the front – and if it’s a half-circle set-up, sit in the middle.
Listen more than you talk
In traditional job interviews, you get to answer all the questions. In a group interview, you need to wait your turn – and take stock of what your competitors are saying.
“If you’re steamrolling the other candidates or interrupting, it comes off as abrasive and aggressive,” says Sarah Vermunt, founder of career coaching company Careergasm.
Allen-Vatel agrees, and warns that dominating the conversation can also come off as cocky. A better strategy is feeding off other participants – letting them finish, and acknowledging intelligent answers while adding your own insights and personal experience.
Watch your body language and demeanor
Employers want to know you’d be a pleasant person to work with, and a team player. Body language, Allen-Vatel says, is a big piece of that.
“Don’t rest back in your seat like you’re waiting for the bus or something,” she says. “Sit up, on the edge of your seat, be engaging, and make eye contact.”
Vermunt says this also means being warm and friendly to both the interviewers – and other applicants. “Often times, when you’re in a panel interview scenario, the interviews are not only looking for your answers, but how you respond to the other applicants,” she explains.
In other words, your social aptitude matters.
Stick around after the interview
Usually, once an interview wraps up, you offer a handshake and hit the road. Not so with many group interviews, Allen-Vatel says. She recommends lingering for a bit once the formal interview portion is over.
This gives you a chance to mingle briefly with the other candidates – and to help your potential future employer tidy up. Whether it’s folding up chairs or offering to gather up group activity materials, helping out post-interview can leave a positive impression.
“It shows that you don’t just do what you’re required to do,” Allen-Vatel says.
And what employer wouldn’t want that?
10 Words You Need to Cut From Your Resume
Workopolis has literally millions of resumes in our database and roughly 1,000 new ones are added daily. Analyzing the content of these shows us some distinct patterns of how Canadians are marketing themselves – and how some improvements can be made. Here’s a look at some of the most often-repeated wordings and phrases in resumes that could really stand a creative update.
Don’t say resume in your resume
A scan of the Workopolis resume database turns up thousands of resumes with the title Resume, C.V., or Curriculum Vitae. Employers already know what a resume is, so labeling it as such is a waste of valuable real-estate. This is your headline, the first thing anyone will read on their first impression of you. Make it count. Your resume should be titled the name of the job that you are applying for.
Also, be careful what you name the actual document file of your resume.
Don’t overload on duties
In body of resumes, by far the most overused wordings are “responsible for” and “duties include.” Both of these phrases come from an outdated style of resume writing by template, and they generally introduce a series of tasks cut and pasted from the job description. This leads to creating a very generic-sounding resume – where anyone in that same role would look exactly the same on paper.
Far stronger would be to list specific accomplishments that set you apart on the job with words such as:
- Planned and implemented
- Increased revenues/sales
- Decreased costs/time/losses
Similarly, many resumes contain sentences describing tasks beginning with “helped,” “handled,” and “worked.” These are too passive and vague to sell a candidate’s achievements in a role. For example, rather than saying you helped with a project, list the ways that you fine-tuned, streamlined, or improved the process. Verbs should describe the results they generated.
Show, don’t tell
Adjectives such as “creative” and “excellent” should be demonstrated by the quality of your work and accomplishments rather than stated outright. Creativity should be conveyed in a resume by the originality of your writing, not by calling yourself creative. “Motivated” is likewise a judgment call for others to make, and further, it has no alternative. It is meaningless to claim to be motivated in a resume, because no candidate would ever describe him or herself as “unmotivated.”
Don’t state the obvious
Finally, far too many resumes end with the phrase, “references available upon request.” It can be assumed that a candidate will offer references when asked, so there is no need to say this. It would be far better to use the space for more experience, skills, and accomplishments – or even just aesthetically-pleasing white space.
So, to summarize, avoid using these 10 over-used words/phrases in your resume:
- Resume / C.V. / Curriculum Vitae
- Duties included
- Responsible for
- References available upon request
The first impression that employers most often have of candidates is through their resume. It is critical to stand out from the crowd of generic applications with a document that really sells your skills and accomplishments. This deserves more than a cut and paste of new job details into an old template.
Think about those things that most make you stand out on the job. Then write them down as they relate to the job you’re applying for. They can make you stand out on paper too.
Explaining Unemployment in the Job Interview
By Sarah Sipek
Regardless of the reason, if you currently find yourself without gainful employment, you may feel nervous about addressing your employment gap in an upcoming interview. But don’t worry! While the circumstances of your unemployment are sure to come up, these strategies will help you handle that tough question like a pro.
While your instinct may be to fudge the truth—especially if your termination of employment was involuntary—it is vital that you’re honest. Doing so will demonstrate your values to your potential employer and help you distinguish yourself from the pack. Honesty and integrity carry a lot of weight when it comes time to make an employment decision.
No employer wants to sit through a one-man show about why you were unemployed. So keep it short and sweet. You want to convince your interviewer that your time away from the workforce has not impacted your ability to perform the job, so address the employment gap with a one-to-two sentence response and then transition into how you have been preparing yourself for this job opportunity.
Have you recently been certified in an industry skill or are you working temporarily for a family friend? Keep the conversation on these achievements and the responsibilities you’ve had during your unemployment. Hiring managers are primarily interested in being assured that you’re ready to work and that there aren’t any red flags, such as bad employer reviews.
Never bash your previous employer, even if there was cause to be angry. Whether you were fired or laid off, you can be frank about it and explain yourself — with tact. Underline the lesson you learned and how you benefitted from the experience. If you were fired for repeatedly being late, speak to how you mastered time management. For personnel issues, explain that your values and work ethic are important to you, and that they align with those of the company.
Highlighting your passion for this type of work and the enthusiasm you have for this opportunity will also help to reassure the hiring manager. From their perspective, they have a vacant role and need to fill it with someone dependable. Showing your positive personality and creating a relationship with the hiring manager will help hiring managers see you as a potential fit.
Before the interview, do your research. Know what the company does, what your role there would be and investigate the organization’s values and recent news and achievements. That way, you’ll be able to align your ambitions and values with those of the company.
Focus on what you’ve learned from the experience of being unemployed, how you’ve grown as a professional and how you intend to apply these learnings to a new position.
Addressing your unemployment in a job interview doesn’t have to be as uncomfortable as you might think. In reality, hiring managers are familiar with every aspect of hiring and firing, and your story probably isn’t the strangest they’ve ever heard. And the important fact is that you’re here now. So take advantage of the opportunity and do your best.
Interviews are a two-way street. Check out what questions you should be asking.
Stats Can: The Highest (and Lowest) Paying Jobs in Canada for 2018
By Peter Harris
Here’s a look at which Canadians are making the most money right now as well as which sectors and regions tend to be earning the smallest paycheques.
The team at Statistics Canada release regular updates on the hourly wages for occupations across the country. According to their latest numbers (January 2018), the average Canadian salary is $26.83/hour or $55,806.40 a year (based on a 40-hour workweek).
Of course, that’s the average. Canada’s highest paid are making more than three times the national average. (And the lowest earners make less than half.)
The highest paid occupation in Canada right now is Specialist Physician. According to Stats Can, they make $86.75 an hour. Based on a full-time 40-hour workweek, this would translate to an annual salary of $180,440.
The lowest paid jobs (which, by definition, would be minimum wage jobs – paying roughly $13 an hour) would be making just over half the national average at roughly $27,000 for a full-time schedule. Here is a list of the highest and lowest paid jobs to have in Canada right now.
The highest paid jobs in Canada (Average annual wage):
- Specialist physicians – $180,440
- Dentists – $149,760
- Petroleum engineers – $130,520
- Engineering managers – $116,600
- University professors and lecturers – $120,848
- Other managers in public administration – $117,000
- Geoscientists and oceanographers – $115,440
- Senior government managers and officials – $115,336
- Commissioned police officers – $112,944
- Chemical engineers – $112,736
Your hourly wages aren’t everything. Many of the jobs on the lower paying list also receive tips – which greatly increase the income workers receive. Bartenders and wait staff, particularly at higher-end establishments can see a greater portion of their revenue coming from gratuities rather than their actual wages.
Similarly, one of the occupation classes Stats Can listed as having the lowest wages was the Sales field. That is because professional sales reps make a large part of their income from commissions, which are also not included in the hourly pay rate. High-performing commissioned sales professionals can actually earn salaries well above the national average.
It is those workers in jobs on the lowest paid list that don’t receive added income from tips or commission that are the actual bottom earners.
Canada’s lowest paid jobs (Average hourly wages):
- Bartenders – $11.50
- Food and beverage servers – $11.85
- Maîtres d’hôtel and hosts/hostesses – $12.85
- Food counter attendants, kitchen helpers and related support occupations – $13.05
- Service station attendants – $13.05
- Harvesting labourers – $13.10
- Nursery and greenhouse workers – $13.25
- Shoe repairers and shoemakers – $13.65
- Hairstylists and barbers – $13.75
- Cashiers – $13.95
Alberta is home to six of the top ten regions for high wages. Wood Buffalo (Fort Mac) was the town with the top hourly pay rate in the country in 2017.
The 10 regions with the highest hourly wages:
- Wood Buffalo–Cold Lake, Alberta – $36.50
- Nunavut – $35.95
- Northwest Territories – $34.20
- Calgary, Alberta – $32.60
- Toronto, Ontario – $30.40
- Edmonton, Alberta – $30.20
- Regina–Moose Mountain, Saskatchewan – $30.00
- Camrose–Drumheller, Alberta – $29.95
- Banff–Jasper–Rocky Mountain House and Athabasca–Grande Prairie–Peace River, Alberta – $29.70
- Red Deer, Alberta – $29.20
The areas with lower than average pay rates tend to be in the Maritimes and Quebec. Edmonston, New Brunswick had the lowest average hourly wage in Canada in 2017 at $19.20.
The 10 regions with the lowest hourly wages:
- Edmundston–Woodstock, New Brunswick – $19.40
- Campbellton–Miramichi, New Brunswick – $21.30
- Prince Edward Island – $21.30
- Gaspésie–Îles-de-la-Madeleine, Quebec – $21.70
- Annapolis Valley, Nova Scotia – $21.75
- Moncton–Richibucto, New Brunswick – $21.75
- Chaudière-Appalaches, Quebec – $22.00
- North Shore, Nova Scotia – $22.05
- Centre-du-Québec, Quebec – $22.60
- Mauricie, Quebec – $22.70
If you make it to the top, you make more money, of course. Of all occupations, the highest average hourly wage was for management jobs particularly in the mining, quarrying and oil and gas extraction field.
The Prime Minister of Canada’s salary is $334,800 a year. Members of Parliament make $167,400 – or almost as much as Specialist Physicians. Cabinet Ministers earn $247,500.
Canadian Hourly wages: Statistics Canada – Wages by Occupation
Government salaries: Base Salaries and Extra Compensation for Canadian MPs
The Year’s Most In-demand Jobs & What They Pay
By Elizabeth Bromstein
Canada’s job market is doing well. 423,000 jobs were created in 2017, and the unemployment rate in December was a mere 5.7%, the lowest it’s been in the 41 years that Statistics Canada has been collecting employment data, according to CTV.
And the news is even better if you’re in the market for work as a general labourer or an accountant. Those are the top two most in demand jobs in the country at the moment, according to a new report from human resources consulting firm Randstad.
To create a list of the top 15 jobs in Canada in 2018, Randtsad used data from CEB’s Wanted Analytics and Randstad’s internal tracking systems, which measure job openings, job placements and other data in various Canadian markets.
“The roles that are taking off in Canada in 2018 cover a diverse range of industries,” says the report. “From blue collar jobs like general labourer, assembler and forklift operator, which are essential to keeping Canada’s strong manufacturing sector running smoothly, to high-tech roles like software engineer, to various professional roles like accountant, project manager, and administrative assistant, there’s a job for everyone.”
Here are the top 10 jobs in Canada in 2018 according to Randstad, and their salaries according to CTV News.
General labourer, $15.90/hr – $18.39/hr
As the most in-demand in job in Canada, general labourers take on a variety of tasks from handy work to loading and unloading, constructing temporary structures like scaffolding, or moving and packing in a wide range of industries.
This high need won’t necessarily last forever, however, as automation moves into the labour sector, taking jobs away from humans. CTV News quotes Randstad’s Carolyn Levy as saying, “We will see a trend to moving toward the skilled trades like welding and machining. We expect it to slow down.”
Sales representative, $30,410 – $71,482 (from Payscale)
Sales is a valuable skill in the current economy. After all, you need salespeople to sell just about anything. These jobs include a need for both business to consumer sales reps, as well as business to business (B2B) sales reps.
According to the report, “a CPA designation is the gold standard and will all but guarantee you steady employment in 2018.” For many, our only experience with accountants is when they do our taxes, but accountants also perform many other tasks related to helping businesses manage their finances.
Engineering project manager, $74,000 – $92,000
Engineering projects managers oversee fellow engineers and other working on construction projects that might include buildings, bridges, or reservoirs. According to Randstad, “With the federal government’s push to fund infrastructure and a booming housing market, engineering project managers will continue to be in demand in 2018.”
Business analyst, $73,000 – $87,000
The role of a business analyst combines tech skills and financial knowledge, and these people are key to business efficiency. Randstad says, “Depending on the scope of their role, business analysts may be involved in strategic planning, analysis, and optimization of internal business systems, processes and software.”
Customer service representative, $37,000 – $43,000
Customer service reps — either in person or in call centres — are a key point of contact between business and consumer. According to Randstad, “In 2018, customer service reps with knowledge of CRM software have an advantage, and are in high demand in the market.”
IT project manager, $92,000 – $114,000
The best paying job on Randstad’s list, IT project managers generally oversee the team developing tech projects. “Tech professionals often transition in project management to advance their careers. To be an IT project manager, you must be highly tech-savvy and able to efficiently manage time, budgets and people,” says Randstad.
Account manager, $75,000 to $92,000
Account managers are the primary contact people in B2B relationships, says Randstad, and since “B2B sales a crucial component for many businesses, it’s no surprise that account managers are in demand in 2018.”
Software engineer, $83,000 to $99,000
Another well-paid position, software engineers are in high demand due to the pervasiveness of software in our day-to-day lives. “They are employed in tech companies that sell software platforms but also in virtually all large-scale operations, from government agencies to banks.”
Forklift operator, $16.59/hr – $19.42/hr
E-commerce growth has led to a high demand for warehouse workers, particularly forklift operators to move and stack inventory. Apparently, many employers will pay for your forklift training if you commit to their organization.
Why You Need to Start Llining up Your 2018 Summer Job Right Now
By Peter Harris
Heads up procrastinators, if you want to land a good summer job for the 2018 season, you need to start looking now. I say this, because I was one of those students who never thought about my summer employment until the end of the school year.
(And, as a consequence, have held some truly unenviable summer positions: manually pulling rocks out of farmers’ fields, shovelling manure, editing phone books, etc.)
To save yourself from options like this, start your summer job search now. Many major companies, federal and provincial government programs, outdoor attractions and municipalities all start looking for their summer employees very early in the year. Often the deadlines for applications arrive well before many people have even started thinking about summer.
Employers have already started recruiting for the season. For example, there are currently hundreds of summer jobs posted on CareerBeacon.
The New Brunswick SEED program – Student Employment Experience Development – is now open for student and employer applications.
Parks Canada does much of its summer hiring in the winter months, with many local job fairs being held in the month of February. You can consult this interactive map to find the location nearest to you.
The Federal Government offers a range of summer employment options across Canada including field work, research, administration, IT, finance, trades, policy, communications and many more. The hiring process runs from now through early April.
Want to work on Parliament Hill for the summer? The application process opens on March 1st. You can bookmark this page as a reminder.
Holding a summer job can be an important stepping stone towards future success. You can gain experience, demonstrate a solid work ethic, build your professional network, and learn new skills. Plus, it’s a great way to earn some cash during the months off school.
Just don’t get shut out from the best jobs by waiting until the snow melts before thinking about how you’re going to spend your summer. Whatever region you are in – or whatever your interests are – start lining up your seasonal gig right now – before all the good ones are taken.
Five Job Interview Behaviours that Make you Toxic to Employers
By Peter Harris
It is possible to ruin your chances of getting hired at the job interview even before any serious discussions about your credentials.
Your answers to questions about your skills and abilities are what can set you apart as the best candidate for the role. However, there are signs employers look for that can indicate you might be a toxic employee to work with. Once you’ve given them that impression, nothing else you say really matters.
Here are five of the most common indicators that you could be sending potential employers warning them not to offer you the job.
Don’t be late for a job interview. It sends a terrible message about your organizational abilities, work ethic, and general etiquette. First off, it’s simply rude to be late for a meeting and make someone else sit there waiting for you. Secondly, a job interview is the time when you most want to impress a potential employer with your professionalism. So, what does it say if you can’t even show up on time for that?
Plan in advance for the interview. Know the route and how long it takes, and give yourself extra time to get there. Of course, things happen. You could be caught in a major and unexpected public transit shut down or some other freak situation. If that happens, call immediately, explain the situation, and apologize.
However, even if it is not your fault and you are completely professional about it, being late could still be putting a negative first impression in the employers’ mind. Be on time.
Your job interview starts before you sit down in the meeting room and start discussing your experience. People have lost jobs by being rude to a stranger on the bus who turned out to be the interviewer they were on the way to meet.
That’s just bad luck. However, how you treat the receptionist, other people you meet in the lobby or around the office, how you introduce yourself and break the ice with interviewer, all of these things matter. Employers are picking someone to be a part of their daily life. They want somebody who is friendly, polite, and easy to get along with.
Being rude, curt, or unfriendly with anyone can send the wrong sign. One tip I recommend is that you have an ice-breaking conversation starter in mind to get the small talk going in case of potential awkwardness. It can be harder to think on your feet when you’re nervous.
Talking badly about your former employer
Let’s face it. If you’re interviewing for a new job, you probably weren’t completely happy with your previous one. The job interview is not the time to rant about the stuff that bothered you. Employers will be watching for how you talk about your work history and relationships. If you complain about your former boss, coworkers, or work environment, it will give the impression that you could be a malcontent.
Nobody wants to hire someone who is going to be a black cloud of negativity around the office. Focus on the positive. Talk about what you’ve learned in the past and how you’re looking to grow in your career.
Not knowing about the company
If you don’t seem to know anything about the company or what they do, then why are you trying to land a job there? I know, you need a job and a paycheque – but employers don’t want to hire someone who just wants a job and a paycheque. They prefer candidates who are passionate about working for them and eager to contribute to their goals.
Showing up uninformed also makes you look like a slacker. Even if you aren’t passionate about the company, you knew you were interviewing there. So why didn’t you do a little research in advance to prepare? Employers will likely assume that you either aren’t savvy enough to do this or that you just didn’t care enough. Red flag either way.
Asking the wrong questions
Similarly, if the only questions you have to ask the interviewer are about what’s in it for you, you could come across as a poor hire. The questions you ask in a job interview should be about the challenges and goals of the role, the work environment, and the team. Don’t start off by asking about how much vacation time you get and what the policy on sick days is.
When you’re trying to get hired for a role, it sends a terrible message when your biggest concerns are how often you don’t have to be there actually doing it.
Show up on time for your job interview. Be polite to everyone you meet, and make friendly small talk. Do your homework and come to the meeting armed with information about the company and prepared to ask smart questions about the job. Then, as long as your credentials are in line with the role, you should at least make the shortlist.
Failing to do any of these things will get you knocked out of contention right from the start.
One Really Good Interview Tip: Prepare the First Thing You Say
By Peter Harris
The most important sentence in any job interview is the very first thing you say. Despite this fact, most people don’t prepare for it at all. So, this is an under-used strategy that can set you apart.
As we have mentioned before, first impressions are made very quickly and they tend to stick. So, it can be vital to start off on the right foot with potential employers. That’s why it is a good strategy to prepare your opening statement in advance.
I’m not talking about your elevator pitch or professional summary. (Although it is a good idea to have a few sentences handy about what you do and where you’re headed.) The introductory sentence that can kickstart a successful job interview is small talk. It’s what you say immediately after being introduced to your interviewer.
Because the employer has read your resume and selected you for an interview, they already assume that – on paper at least – that you have the skills and credentials to do the job. The interview is in large part about seeing if you will be a good fit with the company. Are you friendly and sociable? Are you confident in your abilities? Can you communicate effectively in stressful situations? For what is a job interview, if not a stressful situation?
You come across right away as friendly and sociable if you can start a pleasant conversation. So, when the employer greets you in the lobby and shakes your hand, have something approachable to say.
Offer an observation about the neighborhood of the workplace, a comment on something in the news, or ask friendly questions about the workspace or team. This doesn’t have to be industry-related, showing off your keen knowledge of the business. There will be plenty of time for that once the questions start. This first sentence is to show that you are at ease striking up a conversation and interesting to talk to.
As natural and spontaneous as this conversation starter can sound, you can plan it in advance. The anecdote doesn’t have to be recent – or even true – so long as it sounds genuine. Don’t tell a joke or say something that seems rehearsed. That defeats the purpose.
You may not even have to use your planned intro. Conversation might flow naturally between you and the interviewer. But in the case of an awkward silence after the handshake or on the way to the interview room, it’s better to have something to say.
Remember, it’s not just about your ability to do the job. If you are hired, you become a part of your manager’s daily life. They want someone who is good company – as well as a good worker.
The employer will be left with a better impression of the candidate they had a pleasant conversation with at the outset than with the one who followed them down the hall in awkward silence until they were asked a formal question.
“I love this neighbourhood. You have so many great options for lunch within walking distance.”
“I see all the bikes outside. Do a lot of people ride to work?”
“I saw the awards on the wall in the lobby. Did you get to work on any of those projects?”
“That storm over the weekend was crazy. The thunder was so loud, I didn’t think my dog would ever come out from under the bed. Were you in town for it?”