Forget worrying about the job interview – what you say as you greet your interviewer could be far more important.
Researchers found the first 12 words a prospective employee utters could make or break whether they are offered a job.
It is because the first impression created by small talk on the way to the interview room shapes whether employers view candidates in a positive or negative light.
Resurgo Trust, a charity which helps disadvantaged young people into work, found recruiters and employers judged people on the quality of their small talk.
It said people without privileged backgrounds could struggle to make effective small talk, which put them at a disadvantage.
Iona Ledwidge, of the charity, said: ‘Unlocking the secret world of the workplace is not about being posh. It is asking simple questions such as “How are you?” or “How was your weekend?”
‘It is things like how you greet the receptionist, what you say in the first few minutes or when walking down the corridor. It is smoothing over the gaps; a lot is social graces which (some) young people haven’t been exposed to.
‘Small talk is part of building confidence and communication skills in the workplace.’
Scott Hutchinson from recruitment consultancy Interim Partners said not everyone knew how to make small talk effectively but that it could give candidates an edge.
He added: ‘People are more governed by feelings rather than reason and small talk shows you can converse.
‘That is why middle and upper class kids get more work; because they are confident. That confidence is bred into them from an early age so they can converse with people, they are almost taught it.’
Resurgo’s Spear programme has trained 3,000 disadvantaged 16 to 24-year-olds and has helped three quarters of them get into work or further training.