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Build Rapport with Recruiters

Ask The Expert

By Barbara Mitchell

Q: What can I do to establish rapport with recruiters and hiring managers when I meet them for interviews? Any tips for me?

A: Connecting well with recruiters and hiring managers is a critical element of a successful job search. They’re people too, and they want to work with people they like who also have the skills and knowledge needed to do the job. When it’s time to make a decision and there are two candidates with similar qualifications, usually the person they like better gets the offer.

So how you do ensure that you’re the one with the offer?

Start by finding out as much as you can about the interviewer before your meeting or phone call. Now, I’m not telling you to stalk anyone, but you should check the interviewer’s LinkedIn profile to see if you have a similar interest, went to the same university, or have something else in common. Determine whether you are connected to some of the same people. If so, a shared contact may be willing to help you make that valuable connection.

Check the interviewer’s LinkedIn profile to see if you have a similar interest, went to the same university, or have something else in common.

It’s more difficult to build rapport on the phone, but not impossible. Usually, phone interviews are short and conducted by a recruiter, who may or may not work for the organization. But even on the phone you can be friendly and accessible. Smile when you’re on the phone—it shows in your voice.

When you have an in-person interview, first impressions really do count. Smile warmly and offer a firm (but not bone-crushing) handshake. You can expect some small talk as the meeting gets started, so be prepared to respond to a comment about the weather or your commute or a local sports team. Some people don’t like small talk and consider it a waste of time, but if that’s how you feel, keep it to yourself and join in.

Listen carefully to what’s asked of you and respond with brief but complete answers. Use the interviewer’s name as often as you can. And don’t be afraid to let your personality show.

Ask good questions and listen carefully to the answers. Always be courteous and as flexible as possible. Most of all, be open, honest, warm, and human, and show genuine interest in the recruiter and the position.

Barbara Mitchell is a human resources and management consultant and author of The Big Book of HR and The Essential Workplace Conflict Handbook. Do you have a question you’d like her to answer in “Ask the Expert”? Send it to [email protected].

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