Networking, How To Start A Conversation At A Job Fair, Small Talk

I was coaching a client who is from outside the US. He is extremely smart and motivated. Because English is his second language, he wanted to know how to start conversation and "small talk." During one of our first coaching sessions, I suggested he ask what I call "commonality questions." Commonality Questions are questions that relate to a situation or event you are with the other person. You ask them what they think of the food, the music, the speaker or perhaps current events and vacations. We used, "How was your summer?" as one of the practice questions as he was starting the Fall Semester of grad school.

The next coaching appointment, he and I laughed at that question, "How was your summer?" it was gleaning a lot of "I worked" responses. We worked on more small talk questions that he could use to network at a job fair and an upcoming event where a company was meeting grad students. Here is what he said worked and didn't work for questions to start a conversation.

He said, "I went to a social event last night with a company. What
worked well were the questions you suggested, such as "What is the best part of your job?" and "What do you think makes your company unique or different from other companies like yours?'" You also suggested several questions around family and children and I tried "Are your kids excited about school?" and other children related questions and that led to some great conversation. What didn't work for me again surprisingly, was
asking them, "How was your summer?" They all told me they just worked
and nothing else. I'll report to you again after tomorrow's career
fair. Thank you for all your help.