Currently, I study about small talk in a job interview. I almost gathered concrete examples of small talk, However, I don't know how to small talk by Skype.

The structure of the interview by Skype I think is as follows.

step1: Confirm the camera and voice is working properly (Can you see me? or Can you hear me? it's okay. Your voice sounds clear. etc)

step2: Small talk

step3: Interview of your work experience and your education etc....

I can imagine the conversation regarding step1 or 3, However, I have difficulty to imagine conversation of topic2.

It is difficult to put out ideas, but I came up with only one idea as follows.

(if the interviewer in New York, the applicant is in other countries) It's a very cold day in New York, How is your place?

Regarding actually the scene of a job interview, I think there should be the more diversified conversation. If someone who is experienced in English job interviews by video chat sees this,
Could you tell me a specific example?

  • 3
    Unless both parties are under some serious time constraints, why would the tone or structure of the interview be any different from an in-person one? Granted, when meeting in-person, you don't usually have to check if the other can see and hear you...
    – user34587
    Oct 2, 2017 at 12:47
  • 1
    The tone and structure of "skype video" meetings, in English-speaking business world, is absolutely and totally different from conventional face to face meetings. Indeed there is a specific formalism which has developed.
    – Fattie
    Oct 3, 2017 at 12:30

2 Answers 2


It's a fair question and an interesting one:

the most common thing is to discuss each-other's location.

Very briefly, to establish a setting.

So, "your city" issues:

  1. weather...

  2. "I've been" issues...

The absolutely typical opening lines, in US or UK remote business conversations are:

  • Hi, I'm John

  • HI, I'm Steve and this is Jane

  • I believe you're in Chicago is that right?

  • Yes, you're in Shanghai right?

  • I've visited Chicago a few times when I worked for XYZ. My cousin lives near Chicago.

  • I've never been to Shanghai, but I am often in Hong Kong.

  • I hear it's cold this time of year, same in Shanghai.

  • So, regarding the project, any files I should look at or ...

I would almost say, it is de-rigeur to establish what city everyone is in.

So simple "your city" conversation such as

  • You're in Atlanta right, same time zone as New York?

  • Actually we're an hour west of New York. You're on Paris time. Let's get started then.

  • Funnily enough I lived in Paris for three years as a child, I don't speak much French though.

Don't forget to let the "important person" lead the conversation.

When you first connect, simply say I'm Jane, Nice to meet you and then let them talk.

Very often the "second" thing you say is "My camera's working ok for you, correct picture?" or "Sound quality is OK for you, should I use my microphone?" and that naturally leads to you actually beginning.


  1. simply say "I'm Jane nice to meet you"

  2. it is extremely common to have >short< comments on each person's city. the most common is "I have/not been there", "Question about weather"

  3. "My microphone is working ok?"

  4. and then, the important person says: "Let's get started .." or You say something like "So, what would you like me to do first today on the call..."

As a matter of fact, your example ... It's a very cold day in New York, How is your place? is perfectly correct.

  • Thanks for interviewing me today. I believe you are in New York - it must be cold today?

  • Yes cold day. You're in Kyoto, I've only been there briefly on holiday.

  • Ah, yes I have spent two weeks in New York when I was a young man. Thanks again for calling, how may I serve you today, what should we look at first?

Perfect modern Skype etiquette.

  • Thank you for your awesome answer. My question cleared up. It was very helpful. Thank you indeed!
    – X-MUK-625
    Oct 3, 2017 at 5:59
  • Heh no problem! Yes it is a very interesting sociological question. Indeed an almost strict formalism has developed about the "first things you say" when you meet on video chat.
    – Fattie
    Oct 3, 2017 at 12:31

This small talk will usually be led by the interviewer as they're pretty used to it.

If there's any gap where they're waiting for you to speak, it's usually ok to politely wait.

There's nothing set in stone here, you can simply ask how their weekend was or about anything you know local to where the interviewer is.

As long as you don't get to personal in your questions and don't start conversation topics that are liable to take up too much time, you should be fine.

Basically, take your lead from the interviewer and do your best to relax.

  • 1
    this is absolutely correct of course. I think we can be more specific though. It's almost a "rule" that you each say one or two comments on the other's city, to "establish things". that's the most common opening smalltalk.
    – Fattie
    Oct 2, 2017 at 14:01
  • Thank you for your helpful answer. It is accurate advice as attitudes in the interview. It was very helpful.
    – X-MUK-625
    Oct 3, 2017 at 5:56

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