A job interview is a conversation, usually with strangers. Like all effective conversations, it starts with rapport. Even if the interviewers are not strangers, this is your chance to make a first impression for this new job.
“Hitting it off” is at the core of a successful interview. There is plenty of evidence that people like people who are like them and that companies adapt jobs in order to suit likeable candidates. Whether it is selecting a new employee at job interviews, picking a new team or influencing decision-makers inside or outside the organisation, the likeability factor should not be ignored.
Here are some research findings about first impressions and rapport:
- we form a sense of whether a stranger is trustworthy in less than one tenth of a second
- people who make more eye contact are perceived as more intelligent
- avoiding eye contact is judged to show insincerity and lack of conscientiousness
- faster speakers are judged to be more competent and persuasive
- people who “um” and “ah” are assumed to not know what they’re talking about
- dressing smartly communicates confidence and success
- you are more likely to be given a job at a higher salary if wearing a luxury branded shirt
- people with multiple facial piercings are assumed to be less intelligent
- men with shaved heads are seen as more dominant
- a loose, expansive walking gait is seen as indicating a more adventurous person
- handshakes can be used to judge conscientiousness
Genuine smiling is critical when meeting someone for the first time. It conveys an attitude of openness and acceptance to the person, helping them to relax and to be open to us in turn.
A good communicator learns to adapt successfully to many different people styles – to communicate from where they are. Asking intelligent questions and listening attentively are powerful rapport-building behaviours that enhance the interviewers’ feeling of safety and reliability with you. Questions maintain attention, allowing us to identify the triggers by which the interviewers make their decisions, the values that they consider important. They allow us to install ideas, explore, change perception.
Luck is preparation meeting opportunity. It is necessary to improve your chances of being lucky at a job interview by preparing, not only your answers to the ‘tough questions’ in practical mock interview sessions but practising your rapport building skills.