The small talk you make with your interviewer can be tricky to get right.
On the one hand, recent research suggests that building rapport with your interviewers before getting into the nitty gritty details of the job can give you an edge over other candidates.
But on the other, it’s so easy to flub and start the interview off on an awkward note.
“The secret is to have one to two good open-ended questions that require the person to talk — it lets you show you are a good listener,” says J.T. O’Donnell, founder of career-advice site Careerealism.com and author of “Careerealism: The Smart Approach to a Satisfying Career.”
What you shouldn’t do is open with anything controversial, highly personal, or clumsy, Amanda Augustine, career advice expert for TopResume, tells Business Insider.
“Stick to safer topics that will help your candidacy, while confidently and comfortably breaking the ice at the beginning of your interview,” she suggests.
Here are 13 terrible conversation starters you should steer clear of in your next job interview:
'So, what did you think of Turnbull's speech last night?'
'Unless you're interviewing for a company that's involved in politics, it's best to stay as far away as possible from this topic during your interview,' Augustine says. 'As a rule of thumb, avoid discussing politics, religion, and any other highly charged, controversial topics that can easily turn into heated debates.'
'The craziest thing happened while I was waiting for my morning coffee!'
Seer clear of talking too much about yourself, warns O'Donnell.
You may feel a need to fill the silence by telling your interviewer about every little funny detail about your day, but this may make you look like you're too much of a talker.
'The rule of thumb is, whatever a candidate does in a interview, multiply it by 10 and that's what they will be like at work. So, over talking can be a real interview killer,' O'Donnell says.
'Did you enjoy the Billy Joel concert with your girlfriend Rita?'
While it's a good idea to do your research on the person you'll be interviewing with, crossing the line and bringing up too personal details could make the conversation awkward.
Stick to the information you learn from their LinkedIn profile, not their Facebook or Instagram, suggests Augustine.
'Avoid inappropriately trying to bond over the details that only their friends should know so you don't come off as a creepster,' she says.
Yes or no questions
''Did you have a nice 4th of July?' sounds innocuous, but it could lead to a one-word answer: 'Yes,'' says Vicky Oliver, author of 301 Smart Answers to Tough Interview Questions and '301 Smart Answers to Tough Business Etiquette Questions.'
'How do you know so-and-so?'
If they're a mutual contact, you should already know how they know each other walking into the interview, Oliver notes.
'I'm here for your job!'
Maybe you think that's a go-getter, goal oriented type of statement, or perhaps you think this is funny. But regardless, it will almost certainly be construed as aggressive, presumptuous, and possibly a dash of unscrupulous, Randall says.
'A Friday afternoon interview, huh? You must be dying to get out of here already!'
Never start an interview with suppositions, Oliver says. You don't know the interviewer well enough to make that leap.
'I'm sorry, which job is this again?'
Augustine says that, although it can be difficult to keep your job opportunities straight when you're applying and interviewing for so many, there's no excuse for showing up to an interview without the basic facts. 'Before your meeting, make sure you know the essentials, as well as the details,' she says.
'I can't stay long -- I've got another appointment after this'
'Don't worry, after that statement, they won't keep you long,' Randall says.
'Wow, you look great in that dress'
Amy Glaser, senior vice president of Adecco Staffing USA, says, while compliments are great, it's best to avoid discussing someone's personal appearance -- it could be construed as sexual harassment.
'Where did you get your hair done?'
Similarly, don't ask questions that center around how the interviewer looks. Don't ask her where she gets her hair done or where she bought her great dress, Oliver says.
'So, let's save ourselves some time -- here are my bottom line must-haves'
'Aw, how thoughtful of you,' Randall jokes. 'You may think you're saving everyone time by providing a list of your must-haves, but all this shows is that you lack humility, have demanding tendencies, are not open for negotiation, lack patience to find out if these 'must-haves' would have been offered, and don't get how the interview process goes -- none of these traits are favourable in the workplace.'
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.