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Touchy Topics Print
Written by Abby Kohut   

When you think of an interview, you typically think of a Q&A session where one person is asking the questions and the other person is answering them. When the interview turns into a two-way conversation rather than an inquisition, you have scored big points. At the same time, the more relaxed you feel, the more likely you are to bring up a topic that may be detrimental to your success.

Hiring managers and recruiters will tell you, if they are being honest, that most of the time, they don't necessarily hire people with 100% of the required job qualifications. Instead, they tend to hire people who are like them, or people that they like. In order to be likable, you MUST develop rapport quickly with your interviewer. Talking about commonalities is the first step, but always beware of the touchy topics which may take any rapport you had and throw it out the proverbial window.

  • Religion – Avoid bringing up religion during your interview or making any religious remarks even if the clues indicate that you are of the same religion, i.e, if they are wearing a necklace with a religious symbol or if there is a picture of a religious icon. You never know what might offend your interviewer.

  • Sports – Having a small-talk conversation about the recent big game of the day is troublesome unless you are 100% sure that your interviewer roots for the same team. Imagine the sparks that may fly if you are a Yankee fan and your interviewer is a Red Sox fan.

  • Politics – Definitely avoid political conversations of any kind. Most people have distinct political views and you probably will not be aware of them until after you start working.

  • Recreational Activities – Avoid talking about the event you attended over the weekend, especially if they allude to excessive partying. Although your weekend activities are not any of your employer's concern, you always want them to think of you in a professional way.

  • Bad Weather – Even if you drove an hour in hail, rain, sleet, or snow, do not complain about the weather when you arrive. Your interviewer's goal is to hire people with positive energy. They don't want to hear that a simple thing like the weather is a challenge for you, especially when they have far more difficult challenges in store for you.
Absolutely Abby’s Advice:
Touchy topics are just that… touchy. Sometimes they can be the kiss of death for your interview if you choose wrong. Telling someone that you like the picture on their wall or the knick-knack on their desk is typically a safe conversation starter. But to be 100% safe, avoiding controversial topics is the name of the game until you have several weeks of employment under your belt.
 
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Drawn from my 18 years of experience and research in recruiting and Human Resources, my blog posts are intended to provide insight into what corporate recruiters and Human Resource professionals look for when they are evaluating your qualifications. Simply reading these blogs will not guarantee you success. However, consistently applying the strategies mentioned, as well as developing your own personal interview style, will greatly enhance your chances of victory amidst the competition. I wish you the best of luck with your search as you begin to take charge of your career!