Before we talk about how to establish rapport in an interview we need to understand firstly, what is rapport?

Well, the Oxford Dictionary definition says,

“A close and harmonious relationship in which the people or groups concerned understand each other’s feelings or ideas and communicate well.”

Secondly, how do you establish rapport in an interview? Building good rapport is about the quality of the relationship.  It’s about creating a mutually beneficial relationship for all parties.

Sometimes rapport happens instantly.  Have you ever just ‘clicked’ with someone you’ve just met? Sometimes we cannot explain how or why this happens.  A little voice in our head says “I like this person we’re on the same page!” Other times it takes some real deliberate effort to build rapport!

There are of course many occasions you just don’t have the luxury of time to build rapport.  During an interview for example.

Understanding what rapport is and what it’s not:

  • Rapport is not necessarily about friendships: It’s more about mutual respect.
  • It’s not necessarily about getting agreement: It’s more about understanding and a willingness to see the world from the other person’s point of view.
  • It certainly isn’t about manipulation: It’s about being open to influence.

Some of us will be aware of the old style sales techniques.  Mirroring and matching the other person’s body language. This only works if it’s genuine, subtle and not contrived or forced.  People will see through these sales techniques these days.

Rapport is about being yourself first and foremost, (that’s the only way to be genuine), being open and having two-way communication, mutual respect and trust.

Communication isn’t just about talking!

Communicating is about listening as well as talking. This sounds like a really obvious tip when you’re in an interview.  You’ll be surprised how many candidates don’t listen to what’s being asked of them.

It’s understandable you want to ‘sell’ yourself.  You’ll be keen to let the person interviewing you know everything about you and why they should hire you! That’s a normal and a credible attitude.

An interviewer is likely to have specific information they want to gather, understand and assess.  An average interview will be no more than an hour.  Objectively listen to the question and never interrupt the interviewer.

R.E.S.P.E.C.T – just a little bit!

Respect can be instantly given but is usually one of those characteristic built up over time. During an interview situation, you just don’t have that time. So there are little things you can do to ensure you demonstrate this trait.

Give before you earn! We all know respect is earned not just given – but with a limited amount of time, you’ll need to give first!

Respect during the interview can be demonstrated by the way you behave:

  • Arriving on time
  • Treat people with politeness, courtesy and kindness (the receptionist, security etc.)
  • How much time you’ve taken to prepare.
  • What you know about the company.
  • How you present yourself throughout the interview process (even when your application is rejected).

Take a genuine interest in the company and ask relevant unique questions.  Try not to ask the standard questions. This requires some thought before you turn up for the interview!

Trust – give before you earn!

Again trust is usually something gained over time.  You’ll want the opportunity to build a meaningful, effective and productive relationship.

This just isn’t possible at the first stage interview.

However, there is still a way of building trust during the interview.  Be prepared to be challenged.  Be willing to back up every claim with evidence.  This will demonstrate your competency and let the interviewer know it’s not just interview talk.

You can back up everything you claim with hard facts.  This helps to build up trust if you are not fazed or become uncomfortable by the interviewers probing (or interrogating!) questions.

Of course, this totally relies on you being honest about your achievements, skills and knowledge.