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4 Tips for Building Rapport With Your Interviewer

Eric Ciechanowski
By Eric Ciechanowski
Last Updated: September 02, 2020
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To understand how to build rapport, you have to know what it is based upon.

Will Baron, host of the Salesman Podcast says, “Rapport is a branch of trust. The interviewer needs to trust you before they can have rapport with you. People trust those who they feel are like themselves.”

Discover the different ways to access your interviewer’s trust and effectively build rapport.

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Be Ready and Willing to Talk About Yourself

As an interviewee, you can provide all the right answers and appear to be well qualified for the position for which you’re interviewing, but neither will help you in your goal of building rapport.

“People often neglect the chemistry part of interviewing, focusing solely on being competent technically. However, the hiring manager is going to ask themselves if they like you as a person and would want to interact with you daily, assuming you were qualified,” advises Ben Brooks, CEO of PILOT, a tech startup helping people manage their careers.

“So make sure you reveal more about yourself beyond work. Explain the back story on why you volunteer with a particular organization or why a certain topic interests you,” Brooks says.

Will Baron says that telling relevant stories is “a powerful way to build rapport because they allow you to very quickly show vulnerability – which spikes Oxytocin the trust hormone in the brain – and they are more engaging to the listener than small talk.”

Show Interest in the Interviewer

Alison Krawczyx, senior public relations strategist for overit.com, offers the following tips:

Do your research:

Do your research on the company that you’re interviewing with, but don’t forget to learn more information on the specific people you’re scheduled to meet. Review where they’ve worked previously (via LinkedIn) or what their favorite sports team is (via Twitter), and then bring it up in conversation.

Ask questions:

As you’ve done research on the interviewer, ask them a question about their interests or experience while you’re walking to the conference room or they’re getting their note organized. This will help ease your nerves by giving the interviewer time to talk first, and it will show them that you’re genuinely interested in them and the company.

For example, you can say, “I noticed on LinkedIn that you previously worked at X Company. Did you happen to work with John Smith?” or “So, you’re from New York, are you a Yankee’s fan?”

Be Ready to Shine

Think positive thoughts and practice smiling before you meet with your interviewer. You want to appear likeable, gain the interviewer’s trust and begin building good rapport.

Donna M. Lubrano, adjunct faculty at Northeastern University’s College of Professional Studies, states, “The best way to build a rapport with the interviewer is to help them do their job. Be upbeat and bring really great energy into the room. As someone who has interviewed many candidates, it is awful to see multiple candidates who lack energy and enthusiasm.”

“Smile. Shake hands, make eye contact. These have been stated over and over again, but they are so important in making the other person feel comfortable and making you accessible as a candidate,” advises Lubrano.

Things to Avoid

Just as there are things you should do to build rapport with your interviewer, there are also things you should avoid.  Deborah Walker, Certified Career Management Coach, writes that your handshake is key in building rapport. Walker recommends avoiding these types of handshakes at all costs:


Gives the impression of weakness or lack of interest

Fingertips only:

Gives the impression that you aren’t interested in engaging

Arm Pumping:

Gives the impression that you may not be sincere or you may be aggressive

Another thing to avoid is rambling on and on when answering a question. When an interviewer asks you something, he wants a thoughtful, succinct answer. Keep your answers on track, and resist the urge to keep talking to fill any silences that occur while the interviewer is taking notes. Also, never, ever talk negatively about past jobs, co-workers or managers. It will more than likely work against you if you do.

Erika Andersen, Forbes contributor, writes, “Trust me, saying negative things about your past work life in an interview will only give the impression that you’re both a complainer and indiscreet. Neither quality will put you on the ‘let’s hire’ list.

Other things to avoid talking about include the following:

  • Politics, religion or any other controversial subject
  • Extremely personal information that tends to make others squirm
  • Benefits, pay, vacation time and other things that make it seem you’re there for the perks
  • Inappropriate personal questions directed toward your interviewer

The important thing to remember when trying to build rapport is that you need to present yourself as someone who your interviewer can trust, which means you should be ready and willing to let your best qualities shine through.