“People Buy People, Not Products”, is an old sales technique that is used to help sales professionals, sell products. That said, it’s also possible to use the same phrase during your job interview preparation. If you want a successful job interview, you need to show that you have the right skills, knowledge and experience, but you also need to make sure that your interviewer likes you as a person.
Why Build Rapport?
When a hiring manager expands their team, they’re looking for new employees who bring experience and knowledge, but they’re also looking for talent that fit’s into their existing team.
The worst result for any hiring manager is to hire new talent that causes problems. Potentially this could leave the hiring manager open to losing multiple members of their team.
To stop this, hiring managers will often want to get on well with the candidate during the interview. As a result, the interview not only becomes a place for you to show your knowledge but to build rapport with the hiring manager. The idea is that when you leave the interview room, they have a good impression of you on a personal level. As an added benefit, building rapport will also help to relax you during your interview.
How To Build Rapport
Building rapport during your job interview is easy as long as you follow three key rules;
- First Impression – Create the right impression by dressing professionally and acting like a professional. If the hiring manager has the wrong first impression to you, it’s going to difficult to build rapport and get the hiring manager on your side.
- Company Preparation – The idea here is to use public information on company developments to start a professional conversation. Generally, senior professionals will love talking about their company and the successes they’ve had, and thus it’s straightforward to get the conversation up and running.
- Hiring Manager Preparation – This does depend on whether you know who will interview you beforehand, but as long you do, finding information to start a conversation is very easy. Remember to ask intelligent, open-ended questions that will encourage the interviewer into a discussion.
When you’re trying to build rapport with the hiring manager, it’s vital to do your research and answer open-ended questions, but candidates often forget the basic’s, their first impression.
First up, is your presentation. It should be simple, a smart suit, shirt and clean shoes are the easiest way of making the right impression. As the interviewer walks into the room, make sure that you stand up, smile and give a firm hand-shake. It’s also a great idea to use the hiring managers first name as this will help to warm you to the interviewer.
For the first five minutes, you need to have a bit of chit-chat. We will talk more about building rapport below, however, make sure you ask open-ended questions that encourage the interviewer into a conversation. The ability to demonstrate an interest in both the company and the role in a friendly manner will ensure that the interview starts on a positive note.
Check out the company on websites such as Bloomberg, Reuters, The Financial Times, Glassdoor or by looking at the company website and heading over to their press release section.
When you’re preparing information on a company, you’re looking for new developments, new products, changes in company strategy or something social such as something they are sponsoring.
Hiring Manager Preparation
If you know whom you’re going to be interviewed by, then you can use professional social platforms such as LinkedIn and Facebook to gather as much information as you can find about them.
Maybe you have a mutual friend, have worked at the same company in the past or have a shared hobby that could be a straightforward conversation to have during your interview.
Remember to keep an eye on your surroundings, for example, if your interview is in the hiring managers office, there could be pictures of their family or any sports that they enjoy which you could relate to and build into a conversation.
Don’t be worried about sharing personal information, often a great way to build a conversation is to open up yourself and share personal information such as details regarding your family.
Asking open-ended questions that invites your interviewer into a conversation will help build rapport. If you use closed questions such as, “What’s your favorite Color?”, There’s only a one-word answer that you’re hiring manager can give. This makes it very difficult to develop into a conversation.
Open-ended questions invite the interviewer into a conversation as they require a much lengthier or more in-depth response. Open questions often begin with What, When or How, however, while questions starting with “Why” are considered to be open-ended you do need to be slightly careful in beginning a question with, “Why”, as it can sometimes be interpreted as aggressive, which could lead to the interviewer becoming defensive.
Another tactic to encourage the interviewer into a conversation would be to start a line of questions with the phrase, tell me about……? This is not so much a question, but would still have the desired effect of inviting the interviewer into a conversation.
Examples of Questions You Could Ask Include:
- Tell me how you started working in this company?
- What Do you think of…..?
- What’s your favorite part of working for this company?
- How have you been so successful?
Remember, getting out the door while leaving the hiring manager with a great impression, is as much about building rapport, as it is with being smart in your job interview skills. Part of being smart, is making sure you’ve asked questions at the end of your interview, to show that you’re interested in the role.