Opening the Interview


Setting the stage appropriately at the beginning of the interview can help the candidate feel more comfortable sharing information, leading to a much better experience. Spend some time setting expectations and building rapport with the candidate before jumping into the formal interview questions.  

Tips and Techniques for Building Rapport 

Rapport is about understanding other people and showing a genuine interest in them. When we have rapport, communication becomes easier and more effective. Here are ways you can build rapport with candidates: 

Remember the basics 

Create a good foundation for building rapport by:   

  • Maintaining good eye contact rather than looking away.
  • Smiling.
  • Referring to the candidate by name.
  • Being sincere and showing a genuine interest in the candidate.
  • Giving the candidate your full attention.

Perfect your ‘small talk’ 

When the candidate first joins the interview, have some good conversation topics ready to break the ice. Remember to keep things light and stick to safe, non-argumentative topics (weather, hometown, etc.) 

Set expectations 

Once everyone has settled in, give the candidate an introduction and overview. First, introduce yourself and any other interviewers. Next, explain to the candidate that you will be asking a series of behavior-based interview questions. Highlight that you may be taking notes during the interview, but that the candidate has your full attention. 

Put yourself in their shoes 

As the candidate shares information and responds to the interview questions, be sure to show empathy – in other words, try to understand the candidate by seeing things from their perspective and recognizing their emotions. You can do this by using your imagination or thinking back to a time when you were in a similar situation and reflecting on your thoughts. 

Use mirroring 

Mirroring is a useful technique you can use to get ‘into sync’ with the candidate. It uses a combination of body language, words and phrases, and tone of voice:   

  • Body language. Though more limited in virtual interviews, you may witness some of a candidate’s body language, including posture, gestures (such as hand movements), or facial expressions. You can subtly mirror some of this body language to connect with the candidate.
  • Words and phrases. Look out for certain keywords and phrases that the candidate uses and drop them into the conversation if you can.
  • Tone of voice. Notice the candidate’s speech patterns, such as their tone of voice and how loudly or softly they speak. If they speak softly and slowly, then lower the volume and tempo of your voice as well. 

Tip: Be careful not to go overboard, as too much mirroring can run the risk of offending the other person. 

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