Is the Secret to Acing a Job Interview Passing the Happy Hour Test?

Is the Secret to Acing a Job Interview Passing the Happy Hour Test?Please welcome back guest writer Christen Morgan to discuss some important skills to work on when preparing for job interviews (including some you may not have thought about).

How do you prepare for a job interview? Do you set aside a block of time to review every nook and cranny of your prospective employer’s website, or do you run through the set of situational questions you’ve pieced together from numerous Google searches on career preparation? Although these are both very highly recommended preparation techniques that will certainly prepare your mind for the toughest questions thrown your way, have you considered polishing up on your social skills during this preparation?

No, seriously, the night before an interview have you given any thought to your favorite sports team, which local restaurants you like to frequent or where you dream of visiting for your next extended vacation? I mean these are all questions that you would be well equipped to answer at your next happy hour outing, but what if I told you that being able to speak on these topics during an interview is just as, if not more meaningful than being able to recite the thesis of your law review article? You see, by the time a prospective employer selects you for an interview, especially a callback interview, they already know that you’re qualified for the job. Trust me when I say that you would not have been selected if your grades and prior experience spelled out on your resume that you were not up to par. Therefore, by the time you make it to the short list of being called in for an interview, an employer is more interested in who you are as a person. In other words, they’re more interested in whether you can pass the “Happy Hour Test,” meaning would you be an employee that they would feel comfortable grabbing a drink with after work.

So what factors do employers look for to find their pick? You can well imagine that these factors may be somewhat subjective to the interviewers on your panel. However, the crux of their search will be to find someone who fits into their work environment. So as you prepare, just insert an interviewer’s interests and tailor your responses to best meet their liking, then voila you’ve aced the test! Ok, to be fair it’s not that simple, but below I’ve run through a few steps that could be helpful.

Ensure Your Overall Vibe is Relaxed and Courteous

The first step to acing the happy hour test is ensuring that your overall vibe is relaxed and courteous throughout the interview. Yes, I know it’s borderline impossible to be relaxed when your nerves are jumping through the roof, but even if you aren’t truly relaxed, you at least want to appear as if you are.

So how does one appear relaxed when your heart is racing at a thousand beats per minute?

1. Maintain Confidence

  • The first step to appearing relaxed is to maintain confidence throughout the interview. If you’re confident, then this will shine through despite your nerves. This confidence will stem from solid preparation. If you’ve completed in-depth preparation for this interview, you have nothing to worry about. Lean into the knowledge you’ve acquired and relax.
  • Also be sure to maintain an open posture, as this will do wonders in making you appear engaged, confident and at ease.

2. Accept their Offer for Coffee or Water

  • Another way to appear relaxed is to accept the offer of coffee or water that is usually provided at the start of an interview. Even if you’re not actually thirsty or in need of caffeine, having a beverage in front of you can help you to appear relaxed and may also help to create a more conversational environment for the interview.

As you master this confident and relaxed aura, don’t check your manners at the door. Being well mannered is crucial throughout the entire interview process and this applies from the moment you walk through the door. I’ve heard horror stories of candidates missing out on prospective offers because they were rude to the front desk attendant. Remember that the interview process begins from the moment you step out of your car as you are being watched by everyone, so be very nice to everyone you encounter.

Ability to Have Non-Job Related Conversation

The ability to have non job related conversation is crucial to passing the happy hour test. Yes, you will be expected to answer questions about your prior work experience and about how you could be an asset to the employer. However, you must be able to engage in small talk which reveals that you’re an interesting person that would fit in at this job. You can bolster your ability to engage in non job related dialect by preparing for this and applying the below.

  1. Research each interviewer on the panel and try to see if you can ascertain some aspects of their personality from your findings, then tailor your small talk to meet those interests.
  2. Prepare to answer the “what do you do for fun?” question. Please don’t beat around the bush on this question. Have set answers in place that reveal your personality. Also feel free to ask this question back and develop a rapport with the panel.
  3. Keep context in mind! All your responses should be professional. Yes, happy hour is not usually in a professional setting but if you do land the position and end up going with an employer, you are still being watched. So maintain that professionalism. Let them know that you are down to have a good time but you will still maintain professional composure while doing so.

Now that you’ve read this, I hope you feel one step closer to becoming a prime happy hour companion. Cheers and good luck!


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About Christen Morgan

Christen Morgan graduated magna cum laude from the University of Tampa where she received her B.S. in Criminology. She earned her J.D. from Emory Law School where she competed and served as an executive board member for the Emory Law Moot Court Society. Christen also served as a student representative for LexisNexis and also as a mentor for several 1L students offering them advice and a variety of resources to help them through their law school journey.

Christen previously practiced as a Foreclosure Attorney for a Real Estate law firm but has since then transitioned into a Real Estate Specialist role at a wireless infrastructure company.

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