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Have you ever just instantly clicked with someone you’ve just met?  A little voice in our head says, “I like this person we’re on the same page!”  We cannot always explain how or why this happens. Sometimes rapport just occurs instantly. Other times it takes some real deliberate effort to build rapport.

Building good rapport is about the quality of the relationship and for that relationship to be mutually beneficial for all parties.  If you can build a good rapport with the interviewer, you will significantly increase your chances of success at interviews.

What is rapport?  

The Oxford Dictionary definition says “a close and harmonious relationship in which the people or groups concerned understand each other’s feelings or ideas and communicate well.”

There are lots of opportunities during the recruitment process that can help you build rapport.  If you’ve taken the time to write a cover letter and tailored your CV.  How easy you are to deal with when arranging an interview.

First let’s understand what rapport is and what it is not

  • Rapport is not necessarily about friendship – it’s more about mutual respect.
  • Rapport is not about agreement – it’s more about an understanding and a willingness to see the world from the other person’s point of view.
  • Rapport is certainly not about manipulation – it’s about being open to influence.

Communication is important in building good rapport

Communication isn’t just about talking!  Communicating is also about listening.  There’s also listening to respond and listening to understand.  Be careful you aren’t too quick to respond before understanding the question.

This sounds like a really obvious tip when you’re in an interview.  However, you’ll be surprised how many candidates don’t listen to what’s being asked by the interviewer.  They may be nervous or they may be too prepared with readymade examples.  Sometimes they try to squeeze these examples in anywhere without actually listening to the question.

It’s understandable because you want to sell yourself.  You want the person interviewing you to know everything about you and why they should hire you.  That’s a normal and credible attitude.

However, this is your agenda and might not match the interviewer’s.  The interviewer is likely to have very specific information they want to gather, understand and assess. Normally they have a finite amount of time (one hour is the average first interview time slot.)  Objectively you should listen to the question and never interrupt the interviewer.

Show respect to build rapport

Respect can be instantly given but is usually one of those characteristic built up over time.  During an interview situation you just don’t have that time.  So, there are little things you can do to ensure you demonstrate this trait.

Respect during the interview can be demonstrated by how much you have prepared.  The time you arrive for interview, not too early or late.  How you’ve talked to the receptionist or security (yes these people do count).  How you present yourself and your general behaviour throughout the recruitment process.

Take a genuine interest in the company and ask relevant unique questions.  Try not to ask the standard questions.  This requires some thought prior to the interview.  Hiring managers will know if you’ve taken time to review the job description and whether you’ve taken time to research the company.  The questions you asked will say a lot about you and what you consider important.

Good rapport can help you gain trust

Trust again is usually something gained over time once you’ve had the opportunity to build a meaningful, effective and productive relationship.  There is still a way of building trust during the interview by being prepared to be challenged and be willing to backup any claims with evidence.  This will demonstrate it’s not just talk.  Being able to prove your claims during an interview will demonstrate you are trustworthy.

Can you backup everything you claim with facts?  This helps to build up trust if you are not fazed or become uncomfortable by the interviewers probing questions.  Of course this totally relies on you being honest about your achievements, skills and knowledge.

Both trust and respect usually take time to build.  During an interview it’s been built very quickly, so just be aware it can also be broken just as quick.  Be true to yourself, be your most professional self and get that job you deserve.

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