Why do you need rapport?
Competition is incredibly tough in the law profession today. Having a good interview technique will be crucial if you are to land a traineeship or job. Rapport is the connection between two people – the spoken and unspoken words that say ‘We are on the same page’. It is the art of making someone feel comfortable and accepted. To create rapport, we need to know how to connect with others, regardless of their age, gender, ethnic background, or mood, or the situation.
This skill is never more important than in an interview, where someone’s immediate impression of you is critical. Creating a connection with your interviewer is likely to have a large impact on whether or not they wish to do business with you. So learning the skill of creating good rapport should be one of your priorities as an interviewee. We tend to be attracted to people who we consider similar to ourselves.
When rapport is good, similarities are emphasised and differences are minimised. Rapport is an essential basis for successful communication. Where there is no rapport, there is no (real) communication! We naturally experience rapport with close friends or with those with whom we share a common interest. However we can learn to create rapport and use it to facilitate our relationship with anybody, even those with whom we profoundly disagree.
Developing the skill
In a law job interview, you can employ numerous techniques to maximise the rapport between yourself and your interviewer.
Making first impressions count
Whether we like it or not, judgments are made about us based on the way we look, our clothes, hair, facial expressions and posture. These decisions will usually be made within the first few seconds of meeting with you. Even before you speak, your interviewer will be absorbing nonverbal clues about you. You will be judged by how you stand, walk; shake hands, smile and sit. That’s why it’s important to plan your clothes – and even how you comb your hair – before a meeting.
The way you present yourself can help influence a person’s impression of you. For example, dark clothing suggests authority, lighter colours suggest friendliness or a sense of humour and lots of jewellery suggests power or wealth. Your hairstyle might suggest sensible, cutting-edge, formal or friendly; your makeup can suggest glamorous or professional.
Taking a genuine interest
Focus on the interviewer as a person and your overall attitude is likely to become more genuine. When you first meet a prospective employer, visualize that person as an important guest in your home. Naturally then, you will be glad to see them and you will want to make them feel welcome and at ease. Your overall goal should be to understand them rather than expect them to understand you.
However, don’t be too friendly too quickly, or you may appear false. Instead, hold yourself back, and increase your level of curiosity. Remember to:
- Smile when you first see your interviewer.
- Establish and maintain eye contact.
- Be the first to say hello and extend your hand.
- Deliver a sincere greeting.
- Use the person’s name.
- Do more listening than talking.
Matching and mirroring
Watch two people who have good rapport. You will notice a sense of unison in their body language and the way they talk. Matching and mirroring is when you deliberately take on someone else’s style of behaviour in order to create rapport – a way of becoming highly tuned to another person. If done well, this can be a very powerful technique for building rapport in an interview. To do this, you will need to match:
- Voice tone (how you sound), speed and volume.
- Breathing rates.
- Speech patterns – pick up the key words or phrases your interviewer uses and build these subtly into your conversation. Notice how the interviewer handles information. Does he or she like detail or talk about the bigger picture? Return information in a similar way.
- Rhythm of body movement and energy levels.
- Body postures and gestures (don’t use this one too often as it can be obvious and may be perceived as mimicking).
- The only exception is if someone becomes angry. In that situation, you wouldn’t mirror anger; you’d instead express concern.
Remember to use the technique subtly
However, remember that matching and mirroring must be carried out in a subtle way. If the process intrudes into the other person’s conscious awareness, they may become uncomfortable and nonverbal. Establishing rapport using the sound of your voice and your eye contact pattern is the quickest and most useful way to begin. Copying gestures should be used rarely. Don’t mirror the person exactly – just similarly. So if the other person is sitting with arms folded across his or her chest, you may have yours crossed on your lap. That prevents people from thinking they’re being imitated.
It may come as a relief to know that you don’t have to mirror the other person for longer than a few moments. Once they become comfortable with you, you can actually start leading the nonverbal communication, and then they’ll start following you.
Take time to practice this technique prior to your interview until you can use it easily without thinking about it. That’s all there is to it – keen observation and practice.
Article supplied by Simplylawjobs.com.
ILSPA publishes an article from specialist recruitment site www.Simplylawjobs.com each month. Simplylawjobs.com advertises thousands of the latest legal jobs from leading recruitment agencies and direct employers across the UK. By registering as a jobseeker you can apply for jobs, upload your CV to be seen by employers and sign up for email job alerts.