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How to build rapport in an interview
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How to build rapport in an interview

A candidate’s first impressions are everything in a job interview, especially the rapport that they foster with the interviewer.

This has been confirmed in a new study from The Georgia Institute of Technology where 163 participants were put through mock job interviews. The first two to three minutes were spent ‘rapport building’ by talking about topics unrelated to the job, and then 12 job-related questions were asked.

In between, the interviewers rated the candidates on a number of measures, including whether they appeared to be qualified. The formal questioning was also recorded and shown to external assessors for them to judge the candidates independent of the small talk.

In response to the study, the university writes: “Sure enough, the interviewers' ratings differed from the outside raters' assessments — and that difference was partly explainable by the candidates' performance during the rapport-building period.

“In other words, candidates who did a good job making small talk received higher ratings on the job-related questions than candidates who were less adept at chit-chatting. The interviewers' first impressions had coloured their overall impressions.”

But how can you help your candidates to successfully build rapport with their interviewer? Michael Page offers four key tips.

1. Before the interview

Candidates should always research the company. Not only does this show that they are interested, but it also provides good topics for discussion. They should also mirror the interviewer’s dress code, as that shows suitability for the job and helps with rapport-building.

2. Starting the interview

Candidates shouldn’t come across too familiar too quickly. Instead they should ask open-ended questions in order to encourage conversation. Demonstrating a genuine interest in a role and the organisation can often be the differentiator between candidates.

3. During the interview

Candidates should mirror the interviewer. By subtly mirroring the body language of someone you help to foster a better rapport – it shouldn’t be obvious that they are being copied though! Also, if a candidate echoes the interviewer’s responses it will show they have listened and understood.

4. After the interview

Candidates should follow-up. A thank you email is a good way of continuing the dialogue and showing that they enjoyed the meeting. However, it is important to remember that rapport alone won’t be enough for a candidate to secure the role, they also have to demonstrate they can do the job too. 

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