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Building Rapport on Zoom

Much has been written about proper Zoom protocol and the mechanics of interviewing on a video platform. Very little is available about how to create rapport when interviewing on camera.

During a video conference we can’t perform the usual social niceties like shake hands, comment on the artwork in the reception room or graciously accept a cup of coffee or tea. These small gestures can warm up an otherwise nerve-wracking encounter. And, while they don’t mitigate all of the nerves associated with interviewing, they can ratchet down your anxiety to a manageable level.

So how can you do that in a video format? In addition to dressing professionally, having the technology ready to go, clearing your background, and adjusting the lighting  there are some specific actions you can take to create a warm, personal connection with those on the other side of the computer screen.

Before the interview, you can influence your mindset by recalling a specific time when you met a new person with whom you felt an immediate connection. Think about what contributed to that sense of connection. What did you do, what did you say, how did you act? Take a few moments before the start of the interview to recall that positive interaction.  This will build your confidence and put you in the right frame of mind.

As you enter the video conference room, smile with your mouth, eyes and heart. It may help to put a small mirror just above the camera as a reminder to look friendly and approachable.

Two years ago, I embarked upon one of the most meaningful journeys of my life. I became an adult literacy tutor through the Monterey Country Free Libraries Literacy program. Before being matched with me, my learner spent three years on the county literacy program wait list.

Express your enthusiasm about meeting the person and if you’ve done your homework, as I expect you have, mention something positive you discovered about the interviewer from her LinkedIn or company profile. If you have connections in common or attended the same university, say so. You would do this in a face-to-face interview so don’t hesitate to mention it during the get acquainted part of your video interview.

Identify a current event (non-political) that you could comment on. For example, in California you might mention the recent wildfires and express appreciation for first responders. This helps to create a warm rapport between you and the interview team.

As with all interviews, avoid taking notes. Jotting down a word here or there is fine, extensive notetaking is not because it creates emotional distance between you and the interviewer. Your job is to listen carefully to the tone, content and underlying message and despite the artificiality of the medium, respond authentically.

Just as you would during in-person interviews, ask insightful needs analysis questions. Write a few down in advance and ask any that come to mind in the course of the conversation. Deepen the  conversation and express interest with “Tell me more about . . .”

Prepare relevant examples of related accomplishments and share them in a situation, action, result format. Know and share how your expertise will make an impact on the organization. If you lack a particular skill or trait, your Achille’s heel perhaps, suggest something that is a plus or otherwise negates it.

©2020 Mary Jeanne Vincent.  All rights reserved.