Question: Building a personal connection in a job interview

I have been a believer in keeping job interviews strictly professional, as an interviewer or as an interviewee. But I have read a few recent articles about the need to establish a personal connection with the other side of the table.

I am a senior developer/ CTO candidate myself now, actively looking for job opportunities. I want to try it, but I am not yet sure of the best approach.

How can I establish a deeper rapport with the interviewer without seeming unprofessional?

6 Expert Insights

Your question is one that I hear lot in my coaching practice. There is not simple answer that fits all. It depends a lot on your expectations, the interviewer expectations and the environment in which you are being interviewed.

The only thing I can suggest to you is to hire a career coach who can help you in this process.

Developing a deeper connection has to happen naturally but you can be watching for openings. Look for anything the interviewer says about him/herself personally that interests you and ask him/her about it or share your experience with it.  If someone is interviewing lots of candidates for a position he/she will remember the people who he/she formed a connection with.  Sharing an interest is one way to be memorable.  There are other ways.  The objective is to engage the interviewer so that he/she becomes excited about you as the candidate.  No one can tell you how to do this but if you network a lot you can get practice building rapport with strangers.  Finding a connection and discussing it in a way that the other person wants to know more about you is a way to do it.  Good luck!

Do your research on the individual you are meeting with - Google them, look them up on LinkedIn, press releases, company websites, etc.  You may see you have similar interests, education, etc and can bring that up in the interview.  You create connection by being curious and asking questions and listening for areas you can make a connection.  Personal connection is key during, before and after the interview.  Ask if they are open to you sending them a LinkedIn invite to stay connected.

Much as you learned the skills to become a CTO, this is a skill set well worth developing. Having it will make you competitive in the interview process and greatly increase the chances of your getting hired.

I also suggest that you hire a coach.

The first thing is that establishing a connection has to be authentic. Also, making reference to something you may have in common must be done carefully. The danger is that the interviewer may not want to share her/his interest with you and you could be seen as presumptuous. If you really do have something in common, then making reference to it must be done with implicit (or explicit)  invitation to ask about it.   If you can be relaxed (as much as possible) and ask some intelligent questions about the organization, the business, etc., it is more likely there will be an opening to mention something more .

Practice is a good thing!  If I can help, just let me know.

Good luck!

In addition to the great input already received above, one of the most important elements in a job interview is “being you.” You are absolutely the best at being yourself.  If a personal connection is made it will be the sincerity and validity of which the candidate communicates their answers to questions asked. The opportunity for a personal connection will not present itself until the interviewer believes the candidate to be a potential fit for the job.  Let the person doing the interview make the decision of reaching for a personal connection.   Be prepared to seize the opportunity if/when it presents itself.  

If you would value a short discussion please reach back.