The first challenge of any job interview is establishing rapport with the interviewer. Rapport can be described as the feeling you experience when you are with someone you intuitively like. People only hire people they like; rapport is critical.
How do you establish rapport in a job interview?
Here are some of the common things-
Be on time
The first tactic may seem obvious but it is critical…be on time. If you are late to the interview you have destroyed the foundation for rapport. Be there 15 minutes before the appointment.
Look the interviewer in the eye. Eye contact establishes a connection and a trust. I am not suggesting a stalking type stare but do look the person in the eye for 2-8 seconds and then look away and then back again.
Be sure to smile. Smiles are contagious and will set a tone of friendliness and connection.
Be yourself be relaxed. This may be a challenge in an interview situation but keep in mind an interview is two human beings meeting one another. Treat the interview as an opportunity to meet someone and get to know them. This shifts the context and helps to develop rapport. Also, being authentically yourself communicates honesty.
These are a bit more advanced
Look at the interviewer and and the surroundings, really observe them. What do you learn about them from what you observe. By paying attention to the interviewer you tune into their world and become more open and sensitive to them as a person. This will be communicated in your attitude and verbal/non-verbal communication.
Human beings are basically tribal. We tend to like and trust members of our own tribes. Fortunately human tribes are very broad and include almost any connection. Search for a commonality that will put you in their tribe. The commonality can be geographic, interests, sports, hobbies, schools, prior jobs, etc. etc. Almost anything will do to establish a tribal connection. However caution; avoid discussing anything that will put you in another tribe so politics and religion are areas to avoid.
Ask questions, listen, and communicate understanding
When you ask questions really listen and understand. It is helpful to echo the answer just to be sure you understand and to let the interviewer know you are tuned in. “Am I correct that you are saying that the company is very family friendly but at the same time focuses on performance?” Being heard and understood is very appealing to human beings and fosters rapport. Listen particularly carefully for the interviewer’s goals and concerns, position, expectations and needs.
Be relaxed be confidant
Recent research shows that emotions are contagious. Come into an interview nervous with low confidence and the interviewer will sense it. Anxiety (fear) and low confidence inhibits rapport. The one best way to increase confidence and reduce anxiety is to be well prepared.
This is the most critical element in establishing rapport. Be genuinely curious about the interviewer as a person. I am not suggesting you ask about personal issues; an interview should be professionally focused. Find out how the interviewer came to their position, what they like about their job and the company, their challenges on the job, their professional goals, their management style. It is important to be genuinely curious. If you ask questions as an “interview technique” you will not come across as genuine and you will be perceived as less honest.
Establishing rapport is essential to being selected for a position. As mentioned above, the most important part of establishing rapport is being open, curious, and genuinely interested in establishing a relationship with the interviewer.