28 November 2014
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Establishing a rapport with an interviewer

During an interview it is important that you try to build a rapport with the interviewer. If you can create a relaxed atmosphere and get along well with them, then you increase your chances of being remembered and standing out.

Your aim should be to try to break the ice, quickly build a relationship and make the interviewer feel comfortable when talking with you.  This will not be easy as essentially you are two strangers meeting for the first time, in a formal setting and with only a short period of time to bond.

How to build a rapport at an interview:

  • Always arrive on time to the interview.
  • Maintain good eye contact.
  • Give a firm hand shake.
  • Greet them with a warm friendly smile.
  • Do not sit down until invited to.
  • Be relaxed and confident.
  • Be polite and respectful.
  • Try to find common ground between you.

Do you have similar interests or hobbies
During the conversation keep your ears open for anything they say that you have an interest in or knowledge of i.e. hobbies, football etc. As soon as you hear something then mention your interest in it as well and start a conversation on the topic.

If an interviewer has a family photo on their desk
If you see a photo of their children, or wife then comment on it. Ask if they are his children and then mention if you have any or if they are a handful. This kind of comment can start a mini conversation that can help you connect with them. They may even have a photo of them playing sport, or have a certificate for winning a competition. What ever it is you can comment on it.

Phrases to use to break the ice:

’I like your companies…’  - then go on to mention their products, services, company website etc.

’Have you seen the…’ – then mention a product or service of a competitors’ that is similar to theirs etc.

’Can you explain to me…’ – then ask for a the daily duties of the job.

Ask questions
Appear curious and ask some mild questions that the interviewer will have to answer with more than a yes or no.

Be a good listener
Show you are actively listening by slightly nodding your head when the interviewer is speaking. Demonstrate your listening skills by repeating what the interviewer said in your answers, quote them.

What not to do in an interview:

  • Do not cut across the interviewer when they are talking, wait until they are finished before speaking.
  • Do no get into an argument by disagreeing with them on a issue.
  • Try hard not to appear edgy or nervous, controlling your breathing during the interview can help to relax you.

Positive body language
Do not slouch in your chair, lean back or appear too relaxed, when sitting lean slightly forward.

Familiarize yourself with the company
Look at their website and learn about their business, industry and what they sell. This will make you feel more confident and you can enable you to have a more in-depth conversation about the job. 

At the end of the interview
As you are about to leave thank the interviewer for their time and mention that you have enjoyed the meeting.

Be friendly but courteous
Demonstrate this when answering questions by speaking in a controlled polite tone.

Avoid excessive head shaking or nodding
Do not over react to questions or points. Remain cool, calm and collected and communicate in a controlled way.

If you are offered tea or coffee
If this happens then always accept it, it helps to create an extra link and the drink is useful if your throat starts to become dry.

Topics that can help to build rapport:

  • You may both support the same football team.
  • Been on holiday to the same destination.
  • Both have a interest in poetry, Shakespeare rock climbing. 

What not to talk about:

  • Avoid talking about religion, politics or current affairs.
  • Do not try to make any jokes.
  • Try not to waste time with unnecessary small talk.
     


Related links
How to deal with nerves during a job interview
Interview questions and answers
Interview preparation
Interview tips
Job interview tips
Typical interview questions
University interview questions
What to wear to an interview
 


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