How to Establish Rapport and Interview Your Best

January 31, 2009

Build rapport

Build rapport

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.

Eye contact
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 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
Be observant
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.

Be tribal
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.

Be curious
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.

Using an interview presentation will help you be confidant and establish rapport

Using an interview presentation will help you be confidant and establish rapport


Being Like Sully Sullenberger Will Help You Interview Your Best!

January 19, 2009

sulleyIn an extraordinary performance of aeronautical skill Sullenberger exhibited the following life saving presence of mind-

Preparation: Like any pilot, Sullenberger was trained in flying and landing under duress. But he went further: he researched and studied crash situations and even consulted others on the matter.

Poise Under Pressure: When stressed by a challenging situation based on his training and preparation he knew the most effective routine. Once the plane hit the water, and he followed the routine to a T.

Execution: Not only did Sullenberger have to act fast when his plane encountered engine trouble upon takeoff, but he had to warn his passengers (the now-famous “Brace for impact” warning he said through the intercom) and then help them evacuate.

In interviewing preparation is 85% of the equation for success. Preparation provides the insights and information you need to answer questions and gives you the confidence to be relaxed, think clearly, and use the information to your best advantage.

The interviewer may throw you curves and ask unexpected questions however, being prepared and having a plan for your interview will give you the poise to perform under the pressure of the interview. Be prepared to introduce the information you want the interviewer to know about you so they know you are an excellent candidate for the position. The best plan is to have an interview presentation prepared to use during your interview.

Taking this analogy a step further, the interviewer is the pilot you are the co-pilot in the interview; you are not a passenger.  If the interviewer is doing a good job of steering the interview then sit in the second seat and do your job as a co-pilot by following the interviewer’s lead. Should the interviewer go off course, not obtaining the information they need to make a decision about you, take the controls.

Be prepared, have a plan for communicating the information you want the interviewer to know, and then execute calmly. And just like Sullenberger, don’t leave the interview until you have executed your plan.

Use InterviewBest to plan your interview

Use InterviewBest to plan your interview

Sharpen Your Ax to Interview Your Best

January 15, 2009

Sharp Ax

Sharp Ax

Abraham Lincoln said, “If I had eight hours to chop down a tree, I’d spend six sharpening my ax.” Wise words about preparation. Same for interviewing, if you have one hour for an interview spend three or four hours preparing.

78% of all job candidates “wing” the interview. This means they go in with no or very minimal preparation. The #1  turnoff for a hiring manager is lack of preparation for the interview which typically comes down to not knowing anything about the company. With the advent of the internet and all the easily accessible information about virtually any company, being unprepared has become even a greater interview sin!

So what do you need to know? Lets go from basic to sophisticated.


  • What does the company do
  • What is their market
  • How big are they (revenue/employees)
  • Geographic location (local/regional/national/international)
  • Years in business
  • Corporate structure (private/public/non-profit)
  • Names of products or services
  • Are they growing, stable, shrinking

cartoon-head-hunter1More Sophisticated

  • Competitors
  • Market trends affecting company and their market
  • Significant company and industry risk factors
  • Primary competitors and their strengths
  • Life cycle of company products (early stage, growing, mature, outdated)
  • Company culture
  • Quality of leadership team
  • Interviewer’s background/experience
  • Vulnerability to takeover

Information can be easily learned from the company website, industry publications, news articles and press releases. Also, there are a number of new internet sites that provide insider information such as

With only a minimal amount of effort you can be better prepared than 78% of your competition. Going into your interview with a sharp ax will prepare you to chop down the job and bring it home.

An interview presentation is a sharp axe you can bring with you to the interview

An interview presentation is a sharp axe you can bring with you to the interview

Ingratiate (its not sucking up)Yourself to Interview Your Best

January 11, 2009

sucking-up-1Ingratiation has gotten a bad reputation. People typically think of ingratiation as sucking up, faking or even conning. Webster defines ingratiation as “gaining favor by deliberate effort.” Ingratiation is simply presenting yourself in a positive light by emphasizing your positives and avoiding your negatives. It is your public face it is spinning.

Here are four strategies for ingratiating yourself in an interview:

young, handsome businessman showing  excitement


1- Be enthusiastic about them. Your focus and enthusiasm should be on what you can contribute to the company. “What are your goals?” “You goals are to apply your skills to the success of the company”. “Why do you want to work here?” “I have passion for the work that I can do here and I think my work can make a difference.”



2- Acknowledge their accomplishments. Companies, regardless of size, are proud of their culture, history, and accomplishments. Demonstrate a respect for their pride. Understand and acknowledge what makes them proud. Do this by asking the question, “What are you most proud of?”



3-Let them know you are willing to take supervision and learn their ways. Coupled to their pride is a belief they have developed some pretty good ways of doing things. You may have lots of ideas of how to do things better. Hold those ideas until you know the company better. In the interview if you are asked for suggestions about how to improve things, give the suggestions but begin by acknowledging that they are probably doing pretty well as is. Also make it clear that you will learn and work within their systems.



4. Let them know you will put the company first. Make sure they know that you will always put what’s right for the company ahead of your own needs. Companies talk about work/life balance and they may actually support it. However, in the interview part of ingratiating yourself is to communicate your total dedication to work and the company. If you are asked about hobbies in the interview downplay them. Too many or too much dedication to a hobby may get in the way of working.

Having a winning personality is nice, but there’s more to ingratiation than a winning smile. Present yourself as a highly skilled, flexible, totally dedicated, hard working, person that knows they are a good company and see how you gain their favor…and a job.

Use an interview presentation to ingratiate yourself and interview your best

Use an interview presentation to ingratiate yourself and interview your best

Do You Know Why They Are Not Hiring You Today? Find out to Interview Your Best

January 7, 2009

entrepreneur-salesman-soldIn the car showroom the salesperson is finished with their sales pitch and their final question to you is “Is there a reason you would not buy this car today?” This is an “objection question” and any good sales person in any sales situation asks a variation of this question (What would I need to do or provide to get you to sign the contract today?).  Once the salesman hears the objection(s), their challenge is to overcome the objection(s) and make the sale.

Is there a reason the hiring manager is not offering you the job today? Do you know what the reason is?

In the interview ask the objection question. However, you need to ask an objection question that works in a job interview and gets you the information you seek. Many interview books suggest a direct question such as, “Is there a reason you would not hire me” or even more direct “So do I get the job?” In my experience hiring managers simply duck a direct “objections”  question by saying “Well we have other candidates to interview so…”. My suggestion is to ask a less direct/confrontational question that will give you good actionable information.

Here is the question:
“Based on my background and skills what do you think would be the greatest challenges for me in this position?”

challenges-ahead-signA “challenge(s)” is an objection to hiring you. The challenge may be major- you will not get the job, minor- you are in the running, or inconsequential- if no better candidate shows up you are in.   If there is a challenge voiced do the following:

1- Make the challenge specific
For example the hiring manager may say “You may not have the experience we need”. What experience do they need what experience are you lacking? Keep asking questions such as “please tell me specifically what you mean?” until you get the details and you understand the challenge.

2- Probe for the concern behind the challenge
“You are correct,  although I have worked for a financial services firm I do not have experience in commercial banking what is your concern about my lack of experience in commercial banking?

3- Play back the challenge to the hiring manager
So your concern is that I do not have enough client facing experience is that correct?

Once you know the details of the “challenges” you can formulate a way to overcome the challenge. It may be proposing a strategy you can use once hired to overcome the challenge or it may be emphasizing another area of skill or experience which is equally important and can overcome the hiring manager’s concerns.

This challenges question should be asked in every one of your interviews. It will give you very valuable information as well as provide a question you can ask whenever the interviewer asks you “Do you have any questions for me?”

Use an Interview Presentation to differentiate yourself and interview your best

Use an Interview Presentation to differentiate yourself, overcome objections, and interview your best