How to build rapport in a job interview
Establishing a good rapport with someone you’ve just met can be a tough ask. Motivational speaker Tony Robbins provides insight into what’s involved: “Rapport is the ability to enter someone else's world, to make him feel that you understand him, that you have a strong common bond.”
Whatever else you have to offer, it’s going to be difficult to make it beyond the first round of interviews and secure a job if you’re unable to make your interviewers feel you’re on the same wavelength as them. Here are some tips on how to establish that emotional connection.
Mimic your way into your interviewer’s affections
A useful trick for building rapport is to mirror the interviewer’s body language, matching their expression with your own, or mimicking their posture or tone of voice. Observe the way your interviewer is conducting themselves. Do they speak quickly or slowly? Are they energetic and excitable or calm and measured? By matching their behaviour and energy levels, you can subtly create a feeling of affinity.
Sell your story
There’s a reason human beings spend so much of their time watching films and TV programs, reading books and listening to songs – we’re suckers for a good story and we’re charmed by those with the skills to entertain us with one.
Granted, relating how you cut departmental absenteeism in half in your last role might not be the stuff of a Hollywood blockbuster but you can still turn it into an attention-grabbing narrative.
Instead of saying, “Following the implementation of a variety of measures I reduced sick leave by 50 per cent over the second quarter,” you could say, “Due to a number of forced redundancy rounds I inherited a team with low morale. I knew I needed to improve employee engagement so I made that my first priority. With the help of team-building initiatives and an open door policy as well as an open mind, staff members who were once calling in sick every Monday started working back to make sure our department was beating its targets.” Now that’s a feel-good story that interviewers will want to hear!
Express your personal brand values
An integral part of every job candidate’s career narrative is their ‘personal brand’, which needs to be expressed immediately and consistently.
As Tulika Tripathi, Managing Director for Hudson Asia says, “Your brand is your ‘hook’. You need to give the hiring manager a distinct persona that will make you memorable and distinguish you from other candidates.”
Think carefully about what the core elements of your personal brand are. Are you the upbeat, can-do individual who builds high performance teams? Or the calm, detail-oriented administrator who can turn the grand visions of others into reality?
Once you’ve decided what it is you’re bringing to the table, weave that into your story, whether you’re answering formal questions or conversing casually at the end of the interview. Expressing who you are will win over your interviewer and mark you out as a candidate who they’ll remember for all the right reasons.
Want to learn more about how to build rapport and other ways to succeed at a job interview? Download our free ebook, 34 ways to master the art of the interview.