• Sat. Jul 20th, 2024

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How to create rapport with your job interviewer


By Nick Ronald, Toastmasters International

How do you feel about job interviews?  Like many people you may immediately react with a feeling of nerves or tension. It’s a natural response.  I’ve experienced my own fair share of pre-interview jitters. In fact at one point my interview success rate was poor so I decided to join my local Toastmasters club as I thought improving my public speaking skills would increase my confidence and my interview success. In the process I began to appreciate that presenting yourself at an interview is a form of public speaking.  Luckily what I gained from the club helped me get the job I had been chasing.

Here are some tips to help you improve your interview success rate and ace your next interview.

What causes the interview fear factor?

Fear or anxiety of job interviews is very common. We fear job interviews because they tap into many of our most common fears

Being rejection:  With interviews you either get the job or you don’t. So, it’s natural to be fearful of rejection.

Being judged:  we’ll be facing people sitting across the table, judging us, forming an opinion about our suitability based on the answers we give.

Selling yourself: Selling is an activity that many of us find hard to do at the best of times, and selling ourselves can be the hardest sell of all.

The not knowing: we don’t know what the person interviewing us will be like, what questions they will ask or how difficult those questions will be.

You can reduce your fear with preparation and practice. The best way to build an excellent relationship and influence people is to create rapport with them. This means establishing a connection, a feeling of mutual understanding, of seeing common ground and liking and respecting each other. Creating rapport is an essential step to job interview success.

Start strongly
In a job interview, you need to make sure that first impression is a positive one.

As you enter the room, walk purposefully towards the interviewer(s). In a zoom interview, be ready for when you first see them. Shake hands, if appropriate, with a firm relaxed grip. And, most importantly, look them in the eye and smile. These body language actions are the most obvious way people will judge our confidence and trust in us.

Make good use of body language
Your body language should act to reinforce the rapport you create. When you listen to a question from one of the interviewers, turn slightly to face whomever you are talking to and nod your head. This gives the signal that ‘I understand, I agree and am listening to you’.

Using hand gestures can help to reinforce what you are saying if they are natural and not excessive. You should avoid any pointing or clenched first gestures which can be seen as arrogant or aggressive. In general open palm gestures will encourage communication.

Make a point of using their names
Using the interviewer’s name is a good way to establish rapport as we are automatically programmed to react to our own name. Imagine the difference in the answer; ‘Well, there was one time, when I worked at….’ And then the same phrase, but with their name; ‘Well, John, there was one time, when I worked at….’.

Remember – this is about YOU
You are selling yourself. This means that you don’t give other people the credit for work you have done or for your achievements. The interviewers don’t care what your colleagues achieved, only what YOU achieved. So, as you provide examples you must say; I managed, I too charge of, I achieved.

STAR will help you shine
An important technique for job interview success is the STAR method for answering competency questions:

Situation: Briefly set the scene; what was the problem you had to solve or improve
what were the challenges, what approach did you take
Action: WHAT specific actions did you take to solve the problem and improve the situation 
Demonstrate the successful outcome of your actions (and how you measured the success of the outcome).

Questions where you should use the STAR method include:

  • Tell us about a time…
  • Do you have an example of…

Make time for research

As a starting point read the job description. What are they asking, what are looking for, what are the essential requirements? You need to prove in your answers that you are what they are looking for and you can do what is required.

As with any presentation or public speaking, you always need to know who your audience is before you prepare your speech. It is the same with a job interview. It is increasingly likely that they will research you on social media when looking at your application, so do the same. Google your interviewers or look them up on LinkedIn, as you might find that you have something in common which you can then use as a point of reference in establishing rapport when you meet. Connections help build trust and rapport and you can make a note to mention something (a common interest) you share in the interview.

The power of the pause
In Toastmasters, we learn the power of the pause. If you have a mind blank, take a pause. If you start feeling anxious, take a pause. If you notice you’re speaking too quickly, take a pause. If you want to your point to have more impact, take a pause. A pause can be very powerful, especially if you combine it with a smile.

Conclude strongly
When an interview ends, like any good presentation, you need a strong conclusion. You can do this by asking questions which helps to engage them and shows your interest in the role, and, or by finishing with a strong concluding statement. For example, “thank you, I’ve enjoyed talking to you today. I’m excited to be applying for this role as I see it as a great fit for my skills and experience and I know I can make a difference to the success of the xx project / team”. Craft your concluding statement to include three bullet points of why you should get the job.

Ask for feedback

It is always good to ask for feedback when you don’t get a job. You’ll find that many companies will be happy to provide it.  Feedback is valuable so when you received it use it to improve at your next interview. Practice is key to success with any public speaking including job interviews.  So, keep honing your performance skill, and building your confidence. This is the way to interview success.

Nick Ronald is a member of Toastmasters International, a not-for-profit organisation that has provided communication and leadership skills since 1924 through a worldwide network of clubs. There are more than 400 clubs and 10,000 members in the UK and Ireland. Members follow a structured educational programme to gain skills and confidence in public and impromptu speaking, chairing meetings and time management. To find your nearest club, visit www.toastmasters.org

By mac