Interviews: How to build rapport
If you have ever been to an interview you will know that there is always an element of “getting to know you”. Some people love this part of the interview as it allows them to express themselves as people and find out something interesting about the person interviewing them. To others this is little more than idle chit chat or social penance that must be paid before we can get down to the nitty gritty of the interview
Far from social penance, this is a crucial part of the interview. More and more, social and interpersonal skills are becoming hot requirements in technical jobs. Think about it, the interviewer is possibly wondering how you will react in unfamiliar environments. They might not be looking for a raconteur but they are probably looking for someone who is unafraid to communicate with people.
You don’t have to be a social butterfly to excel at small talk. Here we go over a few small things you can do to help build rapport and get into the flow of that all important interview chit chat.
Look into my eyes! – Ok so its not small talk but eye contact is a big issue. It is crucial to make and maintain eye contact with your interviewer. There are a whole host of reasons why this in important. To me, the biggest reason is that it shows engagement and interest in what the other person is saying. Nothing says “I don’t care” more than staring out of the window (or at your shoes) while an interviewer is talking to you. Much like you can’t get marked down for going to an interview in a suit, you can’t get marked down for making eye contact in an interview.
Use your body – So you have got your eye contact locked down. Well done. Now it is time to get your body in line. Non-verbal communication accounts for so much of what we say and how we are perceived at an interview, so you have to get this on point. Nodding as an interviewer is talking reinforces the feeling that you are listening to what is being said and you are fully engaged. Crossed arms can be interpreted as nervous, defensive or uninterested. I tend to play safe and keep my hands gently clasped in front of me. Don’t be afraid to use your hands to gesture when you are talking as this often helps to demonstrate confidence and passion.
Mirror what you heard – In my experience, most interviewers try and put you at ease and tend to kick off the small talk. I have always found a great way of keeping the conversation going is to mirror what you just heard. I remember once an interviewer telling me about their nightmare commute to the office that took them 2 hours. “Gosh, a 2 hour commute?” I shot back and that was enough for the other person to carry on talking. Equally, listening to a client talk to me about a role they have struggled with I went with a simple “you are really struggling?” and that was enough for them to go over all the issues they were facing.
Small talk, rapport building. Call it what you want it is a crucial part of any interview. Hopefully, these points will have made it a little bit more bearable for you.
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