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How to build rapport during your interview

Shift the focus at your next interview: instead of aiming to impress your interviewer, focus on building a connection. It makes sense: You want to make a positive, lasting impression, so creating professional rapport during your interview should be a primary focus. Here are some tips to help you on your way.

Before the interview

Research is key. Before your interview you should find out as much as possible about the company—that way you appear informed and interested. If you’ve done your research properly you should be able to engage on current issues.

Also, remember to dress appropriately. If you’re interviewing at an organisation with a smart dress code, mirror your interviewer by wearing a suit.

Starting the interview

Your chance to impress begins as soon as you walk through the door. But although you want to start building rapport from the get-go, beware of coming across as overly familiar. The idea is to be friendly, but professionally so. If there is time for small talk, ask open-ended questions in order to encourage conversation. The ability to demonstrate genuine interest in a role and organisation ensures that the interview starts on a positive note. Remember: when interviewing candidates with similar skills and experience, it’s often the person who seems the most enthusiastic and motivated that makes the best impression.

During the interview

Take care to listen to what your interviewer says. If you can, try rephrasing their responses to demonstrate that you understood what was meant. Try to subtly mirror your interviewer’s body language. Subtlety is essential here: it should never be obvious that you are copying their pose, however the act of doing so will subconsciously make you feel more connected. Never voice opinions on contentious issues, such as politics or religion If you offend your interviewer you may undo all the good work you’ve done building rapport. Always stick with topics that are related to the industry, organisation and role.

After the interview

A polite follow up email is a great way to keep the dialogue open between you and your interviewer. Thank them again for taking the time to meet with you.

Remember, the basic aim of building rapport in your interview is to build the impression that you think along the same lines as your interviewer, showing them that you share a similar professional outlook and way of working.

But don’t forget you’re actually there to prove you can do the job too! Make sure to demonstrate your relevant skills, experience and capability – as banter alone will not get you the job. You need to prove you are the absolute best fit for the role, both culturally and technically.