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Building Rapport in Virtual Interviews: Why It’s Essential & How To Do It

In an era where virtual interactions dominate our personal and professional lives, the art of building rapport has taken on a fresh layer of significance. The absence of a traditional handshake, the inability to read full body language, and the challenge of making direct eye contact through a screen can all present hurdles in the virtual interview landscape. Yet, rapport remains a cornerstone of effective communication and can significantly impact your interview outcome. But why is it so crucial, and how can you foster it in a digital setting? Let’s delve in.

Why Building Rapport in Virtual Interviews is Crucial

  1. Breaking the Digital Divide: When you’re miles apart, screens can act as barriers. Establishing a genuine connection can bridge this gap, making the conversation feel more like a face-to-face interaction.
  2. Conveying Authenticity: In a digital space, it can be hard to demonstrate your true self. A strong rapport allows your genuine personality and enthusiasm for the role to shine through.
  3. Memorable Interactions: When interviewers meet multiple candidates virtually, those who manage to establish a strong connection stand out. They remember not just what you said but how you made them feel.

Techniques to Foster Rapport in Virtual Interviews

Preliminary Research: Before the interview, invest time in researching not only the company but also your interviewer, if possible. Platforms like LinkedIn can offer insights into their professional background. Finding commonalities, be it shared interests, educational background, or past experiences, can serve as great conversation starters.

Active Listening: This is more than just not talking when the other person speaks. Nod in agreement, offer verbal affirmations like “I understand” or “That makes sense,” and provide thoughtful responses. This demonstrates your engagement and interest.
Smile Genuinely: While it may sound basic, a genuine smile can be incredibly disarming and inviting. It helps convey warmth and friendliness even through a screen.

Mirroring & Matching: This psychological technique involves subtly mimicking the other person’s speech patterns, tone, and gestures. It creates a sense of familiarity and understanding, although it should be employed with sensitivity to avoid coming off as insincere or mocking.

Clarify and Validate: If you didn’t catch something due to a glitch or just want to make sure you’re on the same page, don’t hesitate to ask. Saying things like “If I understood correctly, you mean…” can show that you’re invested in the conversation.
Share Personal Anecdotes: While staying professional, occasionally weaving in a relevant personal story or experience can humanize the interaction and make it more memorable.

Follow Up: After the interview, a personalized thank you note referencing a unique moment or conversation from the interview can reinforce the connection you established.

Virtual interviews, while challenging, also present unique opportunities. As geographical barriers diminish, the global talent pool opens up, making the competition stiffer. In such a scenario, the ability to establish rapport can be your edge, turning a digital interface into a window of opportunity. So, the next time you find yourself preparing for a virtual interview, remember that the screen in front of you isn’t a barrier, but a bridge. Cultivate that connection, and watch opportunities unfold.