By Don Goodman
People hire people they like. So while your skills and experience are important elements to securing a job offer, just as important is your ability to build rapport that is natural and engaging with your interviewer. The rapport you establish during an interview can greatly impact the impression you leave behind.
Building rapport occurs in many ways. In addition to having subject matter that you both can relate to, it is also very much about body language. The handshake you offer when you first meet your contact, how you stand and sit, your facial expression and eye contact, to where you place your arms, hands, legs and feet is all part of body language to help establish the confident and engaged impression you want to leave with the interviewer. The more engaged you are and the more similarities the interviewer sees in terms of your body language, the easier it is to establish rapport.
Effectively building rapport is what gives many candidates the leg-up in the company's interview process. Even if the candidate does not have as much experience as another candidate, he is seen as more favorable because he's been able to connect with the interviewer in a way that is more relatable and can be seen as fitting along with the rest of the people at the company. Those who do the hiring want to know that the candidate is someone they themselves would enjoy working with.
Ace your interviews by applying confident and positive body language with relevant topics that help build effective rapport. You will come out of the interview leaving your contact with the best possible impression for consideration to a job offer.
Meaningful topics of relevance to help build rapport during an interview include:
- Current events on the company and/or industry: Before you go in for an interview, look over the company's website for news events. Most company websites have a section with press releases. Did the company just sign a significant partnership, bring in a key individual from the industry or launch a new product? These are topics that can help build rapport and show you are on top of what's going on at the company or industry. It shows you have a sincere interest in the company.
- Challenges of the position and challenges the company faces: Asking questions about challenges and then turning around the discussion to clearly point out how you may have experience handling the issues is an easy way to show your contact that you have a desire to learn, face problems and bring solutions.
- Information about your contact: Establishing small talk with your interviewer may be done by asking questions such how she came to work for the company or her experience with particular projects. If you are conducting an interview in your interviewer's office, take note of any family photos showing children or locations you may relate you. You may draw up small talk simply by commenting on the beautiful smiles of the children in the photo, asking how old they are, and sharing information on the age of children you may have of your own. You can also ask if a photo was taken at a certain destination and add comment on how it relates to you – whether it's your hometown or if you went on vacation there recently. Small talk is a time where an interviewer can get a better feel for your personality and a chance to establish a stronger bond by showing how you two may have similarities. Many questions during the interview may be standard and seem a bit rehearsed, so slightly stray from the norm with small talk during the earlier part or latter part of the interview.
There's generally a clear sense of what is expected out of an interview. The employer wants to know how serious you are about this opportunity by your preparedness for the interview and what you can offer to the company through your skills and experience. Now, just let them know you are someone who can work well with the team and you will be on the right path to acing the interview.