Breaking the ice is a technique that good interviewers and savvy candidates can both use to their advantage.
From an interviewer’s point of view, it helps to put the candidate at ease, but it can also be used to begin to gauge wider personal skills.
As a candidate, as innocuous as the initial interaction may be, you know the evaluation process has started with the first questions from the potential employer. Treat the icebreaker questions as you would any other – keep your answers concise, clear, true. “Did you find us OK?” is the perfect opportunity to answer “Oh yes, but then I’d driven here yesterday on a dry-run” – a great example of your finely-tuned attentional to detail focus that you live and breathe. The interview is off to a good start.
Icebreakers though don’t have to be limited to the interview. While space is often at a premium on a typical two page CV, try to work in something that could be used as an icebreaker for those on both sides of the table. A work experience, a hobby or interest, but nothing too risqué. ‘Collecting firearms’, ‘socialising’, ‘eating’ are all dubious ice-breakers best avoided.
For example, I once had a job as an extra in the filming of Pirates of The Caribbean, and this has been a great two-liner to slip into the employment history section of my CV. It’s been a casual aside from an interviewer as well as a major part of an initial interview. Things like this certainly help fix you in the mind of an interviewer. As always, answer any interview questions without labouring the point, and know when to move on.
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