Monday, December 12, 2016

The Key Component to a Successful Job Interview

For years I’ve counseled candidates who are preparing themselves for a face to face job interview.  There are several important topics for discussion and consideration. 
A key component to a successful job interview experience is “rapport.”

Rapport is often defined in these terms: relation, connection, especially harmonious or sympathetic relation.
Rapport is a good sense of understanding and trust. If you have rapport with someone, you two communicate with trust and sympathy. The word is often used to mean good interaction between people in different positions.
Building rapport is all about matching ourselves with another person.  For many, starting a conversation with a stranger is a stressful event; we can be lost for words, awkward with our body language and mannerisms.  Creating rapport at the beginning of a conversation with somebody new will often make the outcome of the conversation more positive. 

  • Talk about established shared experiences, the weather, how you travelled to where you are.  Avoid talking too much about yourself and avoid asking direct questions about the other person.
  • Listen to what the other person is saying and look for shared experiences or circumstances - this will give you more to talk about in the initial stages of communication.
  • Try to inject an element of humor.  Laughing together creates harmony, make a joke about yourself or the situation/circumstances you are in but avoid making jokes about other people.
  • Be conscious of your body language and other non-verbal signals you are sending.  Try to maintain eye contact for approximately 60% of the time.  Relax and lean slightly towards them to indicate listening, mirror their body-language if appropriate.

We create and maintain rapport subconsciously through matching non-verbal signals, including body positioning, body movements, eye contact, facial expressions and tone of voice with the other person.
It is important that appropriate body language is used; we read and instantly believe what body language tells us, whereas we may take more persuading with vocal communication.  If there is a mismatch between what we are saying verbally and what our body language is saying then the person we are communicating with will believe the body language. 
Building rapport, therefore, begins with displaying appropriate
body language - being welcoming, relaxed and open.

Reflecting back and clarifying what has been said are useful tactics for repeating what has been communicated by the other person.  Not only will it confirm that you are listening but also give you opportunity to use the words and phases of the other person, further emphasizing similarity and common ground.
The way we use our voice is also important in developing rapport...When we are nervous or tense we tend to talk more quickly, this in turn can make you sound more tense and stressed. We can vary our voices, pitch, volume and pace in ways to make what we are saying more interesting but also to come across as more relaxed, open and friendly.  Try lowering your tone, talk more slowly and softly, this will help you develop rapport more easily.

Here is a recent article from the Wall Street Journal very applicable to this topic:

Scot Dickerson, CPC | President | Capstone Search Group