Having a rapport with someone is having a good understanding of someone, and the ability to communicate well with them – building a relationship through mutual trust and respect. Sounds simple enough, doesn’t it? But, do you do it as often as you should in your recruitment process?
Initially, I’m going to look at the "why" you should be building a rapport, before addressing the speculation around “how”.
Let’s look at this from two perspectives:
The candidate. The candidate sees all contact with representatives of the company as an insight into the employee culture. Many candidates may even reject jobs if no rapport is made, purely because this gives a negative reflection of the employee culture at that company. Think about it: would you want to be in a job in which nobody really speaks to you? You can lose a high-quality candidate, who knows what they’re looking for, as quickly as you can approve their application – their comfort is your benefit.
The interviewer. This gives you an opportunity, one-to-one with the candidate, to really get to know them. Make sure there’s nothing in the room to intimidate them, starting with yourself – open up your body, because if you look comfortable, they’ll start to feel more comfortable. Getting to know the candidate, and asking them more in-depth questions, gives you an insight into their personality and their capabilities in the workplace – both of which can be important factors when making a job offer. If you really get to know them, you’ll be able to make a more informed decision about whether or not they are suited, not just to the role but, to the business.
Now, you know 'why' you should be building a rapport with all of your candidates.
Body language. As I previously said, opening up your body language will be less intimidating for the candidate. This will allow them to feel more comfortable in the environment and be more like themselves. Try this: don’t cross your arms. Don’t cross your legs. Try leaning slightly forward to show them that you are actually listening.
Eye contact. Some candidates may feel as though you’re being rude by not maintaining eye contact. This is enough to put the candidate off wanting the job. Maintaining eye contact when you’re listening shows that you are paying attention and taking in exactly what the candidate is saying. Maintaining eye contact when you’re talking shows that you are confident in your message which, in turn, makes the candidate believe what you are saying.
Take a genuine interest in them. Get to know what’s important to them – taking this time to do so can help you get to know the candidate, and also reaffirms their interest in your company by exhibiting the employee culture in a positive way.
The above points are some of the main things you can do to build a rapport with your candidates.
However, there are a number of simple things that you can start doing that will contribute to a strong rapport:
- Offer them a firm, but not intimidating, handshake
- Answer questions as honestly as possible
- Relate to them on a personal level, if possible – do as much research on them as possible (e.g. “I see you’re from *****, my parents were born there).
- Offer them a compliment, but don’t seem too enthusiastic about it (e.g. “I like your *****”)
- Empathise with them – try and see things from their perspective. Understand how they feel about things.
- Use their name regularly. This creates more of a ‘friendship’ feel about the process, whilst also reaffirming their name to yourself so you won’t risk forgetting it.
To build a rapport with a candidate, you don’t have to like or agree with everything they say. All you have to do is understand and respect it. There are a large number of things that you can do, that are extremely simple, to help you build a rapport with your candidates.
Your recruitment process should be an enjoyable experience for all of your candidates – building a rapport makes it easier for them to transition between stages, making it more comfortable and enjoyable for them, whilst also allowing you to pick out and grab hold of the best talent.
So, how will you go about building a rapport with your candidates?
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