Often, international students coming from different cultures (the oranges and yellows in The Lewis Model below) suffer from not being able to make small talk in English. Uncomfortable with the cultural ways of North America and accompanied by language barriers, international students almost immediately ‘get to work’ rather than trying to establish rapport first. The art of networking doesn’t come naturally to them. So, mentally they are trying to just get done with the conversation with the recruiter and leave.
The Lewis Model
So how does one go about it?
I suggest googling the topics of small talk- e.g., weather, city news, sports, etc. and starting with those. One way to be effective, and foolproof, is to use humor. For example, if you know the recruiter is coming from a city with a very different climate than yours, you can empathize, using humor, and begin the conversation.
Almost all candidates are skilled and have unique usable hard skills, so why should a recruiter select one over another? What’s unique about that one candidate? What makes them stand out? What differentiates them? Students have been preached on the importance of standing out from the crowd by several sources in their MBA journey: career services, self-help books, TED talks, guest speakers etc. etc. But, how can they possibly achieve this?
The answer is manifold: