Sue Timlin, Global Director of People & Culture at Hays shares these sure fast wins to building a rapport with your interviewer:
Make a conscious effort to smile when you are first introduced, when you say goodbye and regularly throughout the interview. This may sound like an obvious one, but it’s interesting how many people don’t. I’ve met numerous unsmiling interviewees in my time. Given that nerves will be a factor, make the effort a deliberate one.
2. Shake hands
Be the first to extend your hand for a firm handshake and to greet your interviewer. Again, it may sound obvious, but first impressions really are vital.
3. Maintain eye contact
Establish and maintain eye contact during your meeting. Too much eye contact is clearly off-putting, so look away regularly, but keep that contact. If you never meet your interviewer’s gaze, you will come across as slightly shifty, nervous or disengaged entirely.
4. Remember your interviewer's name
Make a conscious effort to remember the name of your interviewer (having made sure you’ve heard it properly), and use it quite often and as you leave. It’s an old trick that politicians use when establishing rapport with journalists who interview them, and it’s surprisingly effective!
5. Create a 50/50 dialogue
Create a 50/50 dialogue in which you listen as much as you speak, and don’t save all your questions until the end of the meeting. Show you are interested – and listening – by asking intelligent questions (you should have thought of some relevant questions to ask as part of your preparation). You can also sometimes summarise or paraphrase something your interviewer has said, and repeat it back to them in question form. Again, this shows you are paying attention.
6. Remember your interviewer is just another human being
Help your brain put things into perspective and keep those nerves at bay by remembering that your interviewer is just another human being, who may also be feeling anxious. This should help you break down the barriers.
7. Make the interviewer feel important
Do your research on the company, your interviewer and the role you are applying for (LinkedIn is a great resource to help you do this). Nothing helps flatter and build rapport more than a little inside knowledge on the person you’ll be meeting. Come prepared with some follow up questions pertaining to the interviewer to help build a stronger connection – for example, you could ask about their career path or their history with the company.
8. Mirror body language
Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and mirroring body language can help the interviewer envisage you working with them. Mirroring could be anything from speech patterns and voice tone to gestures, but don’t overdo it, obviously. Match and mirror subtly. Adjusting to the interviewer’s demeanour and behaviour can also help you both feel a little more comfortable.
9. Be memorable - show the real you
Don’t be afraid to let your personality shine through to help your interviewer see who you really are. Answer questions honestly and clearly. And remember, an experienced interviewer can easily spot the signs of a candidate who is trying too hard.
10. Follow-up afterwards
Follow-up the interview with an email thanking the interviewer for their time and reiterate how much you enjoyed meeting them. Send this before the interviewer has a chance to forget you.
Good luck with your interview! We’ve got lots of other useful tips for your job search as well as career advice – see our blog page here or click on the links below.