It’s no secret that interviewing can be a challenge. There is a lot to consider: what to wear, when to arrive, how to answer questions, and more. While you are trying to juggle your plan of action, it won’t hurt to take a minute to consider how you can quickly and easily develop an interpersonal connection with your interviewer, ensuring you can set yourself (and your interviewer) at ease. The result, of course, is making the time spent together effective and enjoyable.
Establishing a Connection
Picture this… you have not seen an old friend or acquaintance in a long time. How do you feel? Are you excited to see them? It is very likely. As such, you greet them openly and warmly with arms extended for a hug or a handshake. It’s that simple for you to establish a connection.
A similar approach should be taken with your interviewer (though hugging is likely frowned upon). Smile, extend your hand, and be genuine in indicating how happy you are to meet them. Your ability to connect begins in this moment and will help to start the interview off on the right foot. If you have the opportunity to pass other team members on your way from the door to the meeting space, it would be appropriate to greet them as well as long as you are not in discussion. Demonstrating to your interviewer that you are friendly and personable at this time, and throughout your interview, is essential.
Exist in the Moment
We all know that there’s nothing more frustrating than when someone seems disengaged. Think about this for just a minute. What indicates to you that someone is not present in the moment? Is it body language, eye contact, feeling as though you have not been heard, constant movement, or a host of other actions? During your interview, keep this in mind. You want to connect with your interviewer and demonstrate your interest. The types of indicators you may want to consider are listed below. If you are aware that you struggle with any of the items that follow, practice ahead of time.
- Maintain eye contact, keep a focus and do not look around the room when in conversation.
- Sit up straight, resist the urge to slouch or lean back.
- Lean in when listening to show interest.
- Nod to demonstrate engagement in the conversation.
- Hold your hands and feet still (even if you are nervous) to limit distractions. Holding a pen or notepad may be helpful.
- Paraphrase wherein you repeat back what you have heard to ensure mutual understanding, especially of complex topics.
- Breathe deeply to help yourself relax and focus on the experience unfolding in front of you.
Keep in mind that an interview is not a one-sided question and answer session. The purpose of an interview is to allow an organization and a candidate to determine if they are a fit for one another. Interviewers are skilled in asking questions to obtain specific answers. Candidates should work toward the same. Come prepared with questions about company culture, ask the interviewer what they have enjoyed most about their work, what drives and motivates them, why they feel the organization is a great place to work, and feel comfortable asking how others work together.
Additionally, talk about yourself. When you open up about your hobbies and interests, you’ll likely find that you and your interviewer have something in common. Feel free to ask questions of your interviewer about those topics as well. When you ask questions of your interviewer about who they are and what is important to them, you establish a very important connection. This connection may be the very thing that puts you ahead of another candidate.
Please keep in mind that you can volunteer certain information but interviewers cannot ask about certain topics (i.e. age, religion, race, marital status, etc.). The choice is yours.
It’s All About Results
When you are able to connect with your interviewer positively, that feeling will spill over into the hiring decision. After all, potential employers want to hire people who are easy to work with and will get along with others well. When you demonstrate your ability to connect quickly, your interviewer will associate this with your potential to integrate well into the work environment.
By using the interview as a two-way conversation, you will also be able to take away more information about the company, the position, and if it’s a fit for you than you might otherwise have done.
It is essential to practice the skills that will help you to connect with your interviewer quickly. Be sure to consider any possible challenges you might face and create a plan of action as you would for any other area of interview preparation. This will ensure you effectively develop an interpersonal connection with your interviewer that positively impacts their hiring decision.