4 Tips to Build Rapport with Your Interviewer and Score an Instant LIKE

You’ve made it to the interview round. Congratulations!

Next step is to nail the interview itself.

It’s all about preparation, preparation, preparation! You study the route to the company office to get there in plenty of time. You rehearsed answers to common interview questions so you can impress. You’ve researched the company, selected your interview outfit and even done some online stalking of the Hiring ManagerBut one aspect of the interview process that you probably neglected is the initial small talk to connect with the interviewer and break the ice.

You may think of the little bit of banter before a job interview as idle chit-chat at best. You might even find the whole experience excruciating. But research shows that your ability, within the first few minutes of an interview, to spark an elusive form of interpersonal chemistry and build rapport can have a larger-than-expected impact on the final outcome.

Build Rapport and Score a Like

Building rapport with your interviewer before getting into the heart of what you’re there for can give you an edge over other candidates. It’s an inevitable part of every job interview. Whether you exchange pleasantries for a few minutes before the Hiring Manager jumps in with questions or you want to fill the silence during that shared stroll to the conference room, you need to be prepared to engage in some professional—and, ideally, impressive—small talk.

Take a cue from Bartenders, Retail Employees, Stand-up Comedians and Police Investigators. These guys have to forge a quick connection with strangers on the regular.  They all use techniques such as studying body language, finding commonality, engaging in pleasantries and paying compliments to break the ice and you can use the exact same tricks in a job interview scenario.

If you think that the Hiring Manager is open to small talk, here’s how can you make it work to your advantage and leave a lasting impression:

Avoid the Clichés

Friendly chats about the weather are easy to lean on but I think we can all agree that they aren’t very impactful or memorable. I can’t imagine many Hiring Managers vouching for a candidate by saying, “Hey, how about the guy that complained about how dry it’s been? I thought he was great!”

So, do yourself a favour and skip the generalities and clichés. You can bet that every other candidate is using those—so avoid it if you want to be the one to stand out.

Find a Common Interest

If you want to nail an interview, you have to spend some time researching your interviewer. While you’re politely digging through his or her social media profile, keep your eyes peeled for any common interests you share.

Is she currently training for a half marathon? If you’re an avid runner too, that’s a great topic of conversation.

Does he frequently post photos of his rescued mutt? That’s the perfect lead-in for fellow dog lovers.

Do you volunteer for the same cause? Instant connection.

Bring up something relevant about yourself (as naturally as possible) when your interviewer asks that inevitable, “How are you?” question. If he or she takes the bait, you’ll be engaged in an interesting conversation about a shared passion in no time.

Example: “I’m doing great, thanks! I started the day with a training run for my upcoming half marathon, so I really can’t complain.”

But exercise caution. Whatever you do, don’t let on you’ve been cyber-stalking them. That’s just plain creepy. 

Comment on Something Company Related

Your goal in an interview is to demonstrate that you are a great fit for the company. So, any time you can show that you have an interest and a high level of engagement in what that organization has going on that’s a win for you.

Compliments are always better when they’re focused on the company or interviewer’s recent achievements and not someone’s personal appearance. This kind of statement will show thoughtfulness, congeniality and that you did your homework.

As you’re waiting for your meeting, be on the lookout for any clues you could use to start a conversation. Maybe the company has several awards hanging on the wall of the lobby or perhaps the office dog came up to offer you a friendly greeting. If you want to build rapport you have to be willing to use the materials around you.

Those little snippets and peeks into the company can be an awesome and highly relevant topic of conversation with your interviewer. So, don’t be afraid to use them!

Example: “’I saw that the award you won is in the reception area. I actually read about that in your company’s latest blog post.”

Ask Questions

No matter how much you prepare, small talk can still be awkward. In those moments when you’re feeling panic-stricken or fresh out of things to talk about, never hesitate to rely on this tactic: asking questions.

Doing so will shift the spotlight off you. And, honestly, because your interviewer will be the one having to ask seemingly endless questions for the next half hour or so, he or she probably won’t mind a little bit of time on the receiving end to share a little bit about him- or herself.

Example: “I believe you’ve worked here for about five years, is that right? What do you like most about working here?”

Wrap up

It can be strange to think about preparing for small talk. But, when you’re at a job interview, every single second is an opportunity to make a positive impression and get yourself one step closer to actually landing that position.

If you want to build rapport you have to do more than just the basics. So, rather than wasting that friendly chatter on the weather or pleasantries that don’t extend past, “I’m fine, thanks!” use these tips to best leverage that time to your advantage.

Your turn…

Do you agree that an initial icebreaker is a great segue into an interview, helps to build rapport and helps with the pre-interview jitters?

If yes, do you use any of the above techniques? Or, do you have your own that you would like to share with your fellow job seekers?

What’s your go to small talk topic?

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