The importance of building rapport with your interviewer can’t be stressed enough. Unfortunately for many, the stress of an interview situation often manifests in rigid, structured behaviour. Yes, you need to be professional. Yes, you need to carefully tailor your responses with the right amount of information to showcase your talents with examples. But you also need to inject a bit of personality – a bit of ‘you’ into the interview.
Being too formal is an interview killer. You need to display a bit of personality, your ability to converse and get along with people. Employers don’t employ people they don’t like. They’re looking for a person to ‘fit’ their team.
Let’s face it, the successful person will be spending the bulk of their week with you – would you want to do that with someone you can’t build rapport with?
Try to relax. Yes, I know it’s difficult, especially when you want something so badly and feel like everything is riding on the interview. But you have to breathe deeply and try your best to relax into the interview.
The interview usually commences with a few ice-breaker questions. A comment about the weather, if you were able to park, if you had a nice weekend, etc. Use this opportunity to converse with the interviewer, not just answer their questions.
What do you see around you? Are there photos on the desk – kids, fishing photos, team sporting photographs? Use them, make a comment and engage in conversation. Try and relate to your interviewer on a personal level; it helps.
A word of caution though. You have to balance it – being too friendly too quickly can damage your efforts. Remember, you have just met this person, so keep it in check or you may come across as ‘sleazy’ or ‘salesy’.
Rapport is an exchange between two people so watch the interviewer’s behaviour. How are they sitting, what is their speech volume and tone like? Mirroring an interviewer is a good way of building commonality.
Another way to build rapport with your interviewer is to ask him/her questions at the appropriate time (usually towards the end of the interview when they ask if you have any questions). Ask them how long they’ve been in the role, what do they like about the company, what made them decide to choose this company, etc? If he/she talks about their own career progression or a major project they’ve been involved in, compliment them, talk to them. Just involving their background and successes in the conversation can effectively build rapport.
Building rapport with your interviewer can significantly help you advance your application. I have known candidates who weren’t the best performers at interview or who didn’t possess the most experience, but because of the way in which they built rapport, they were progressed.
In any interview you want to be remembered, to stand apart from other candidates. Effectively building rapport with your interviewer won’t necessarily gain you the role on its own, but it certainly helps! Combined with a great interview style and techniques you could well be on your way to a new job!
© Michelle Lopez, Owner/Career Consultant
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