Building rapport during a job interview.
It’s not always the brightest and the best who get the job. Often it’s the person who interviews well. The bond you establish with an interviewer is a very important factor in doing well at interview. From their point of view, when they meet you they’re considering working with you. In some jobs, you could well end up spending more time with your colleagues than you do your family! So why hire someone unless you are absolutely comfortable them? It’s suggested that research shows interviewers make up their minds about a candidate within the first two minutes of the interview and the rest of the interview time is used to support that decision. Being a good interviewee is a skill you can learn and improve. It’s not just a question of matching the criteria on the prospective job description. Build rapport and engage with your interviewer and you are more likely to be successful. So what is the employer looking for?
- Can you do the job?
- Will you do the job?
- Will you be a good fit?
- Can they manage you?
- Can they afford you?
Building rapport Your CV, your cover letter and your interview performance all count to answering these questions but it comes down to the impression you make on the interviewer and whether you are able to convince them that you a willing and credible candidate who they want on their team. An interview is a stressful situation, some initial nervousness is to be expected, but an interview is an audition and you are aiming to convince the interviewer you’ll be an asset to their team. So you need to prepare well. Know what you are going to say. Have your elevator pitch plotted out, know what you are selling as your USP and how you plan to demonstrate that you are a good fit. Building rapport doesn’t mean you’re looking for a new best friend. Keep it businesslike. Try to view your interviewer not as an adversary but as a person. Focus on this and your overall attitude is likely to appear genuine. When you meet a prospective employer, visualise them as a guest whom you are glad to see and want to make welcome and at ease. The idea is to understand them rather than expecting them to understand you. An important factor in building rapport for the jobseeker is that if you want others to like you, you have to listen to them, and show you are listening by asking intelligent questions. Interviewers often rely on a 30/70 rule – they talk about 30% of the time set aside and you answer their questions. What you need to do is make this more of a 50/50 dialogue, a two-way process. You’re more likely to have an in-depth conversation about the job if you can establish a rapport on this level. Then you can steer the conversation to play to your strengths. Being memorable Do your research on the company, products, services, structure, finances. Research thoroughly so you know what they offer and learn about competitors and customers. Check out the interviewer on Linkedin. Do you have people in common? What does their Linkedin profile tell you about them, their interests, likes and dislikes? The more information you have at your fingertips the more confident you’ll feel. Mention relevant points during the interview. Ask the interviewer what plans the company has in the near future for new products or services, or how it is going to improve the service to its clients. By asking questions like this they are more likely to remember you than other candidates. Be courteous and enthusiastic; show yourself off as open, confident, honest and willing. Pay attention, don’t relax too much. Smile, we don’t want to hire someone grim or unfriendly, you should give the impression that are glad to be at the interview and genuinely interested to meet your interviewer. The interviewer is not just interested in your skills, but in how you present yourself. Other applicants may have similar skills and experience but if your presentation, personality and approach are different and better then you will be the star candidate. Build rapport and you highlight to the interviewer what great communication skills you have. We hire people we like. Your skills and experience are important elements to securing a job offer but just as important is your ability to build rapport that is natural and engaging with your interviewer. They want to know how suitable you are for their role so let them know you are someone who can work well with the team and you will be on course to ace the interview.
Michael Moran is chief executive of performance improvement consultancy, 10Eighty.
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