By Angela Rose for BioSpace.com
On average, a job interview lasts 40 minutes. However, 33 percent of employers decide whether they’ll offer you a position within the first 90 seconds—at least according to Undercover Recruiter, a popular career blog. They recently published an enlightening infographic, based on a survey of 2,000 bosses, which clearly illustrated how important it is for biopharma professionals to connect favorably with their interviewer—using both nonverbal and verbal methods—as soon as they walk through the employer’s office door.
Why is this so essential? The answer is likeability. You might be the most competent business development director, knowledgeable research scientist, or skilled instrumentation technologist, but if you fail to convince your interviewer that he or she will actually enjoy having you on the team, you’re likely to fail at landing the job as well. Consider these five simple ways to build rapport quickly at your next interview.
1. Show interest in your interviewer’s experience.
Sure, you’re nervous. Everyone is when interviewing for a job. You’ve probably spent most of your time over the past several days practicing answers to potential questions and attempting to squash that nervousness rather than thinking about things you can do or say to put your interviewer at ease. Fortunately, making small talk is one of them—and it doesn’t take much preparation, especially if you keep it purposeful. If your interviewer doesn’t launch directly into her own questions as soon as you’ve taken a seat, you can get things rolling yourself with queries such as “How long have you worked for Biotech ABC?” or “How did you get your start at XYZ Pharmaceuticals?”
2. Observe and then imitate him/her.
Mirroring—or subconsciously imitating the gestures, speech patterns and attitudes of others—often occurs naturally in social groups. Purposefully mirroring your interviewer can help you quickly establish rapport. While you don’t want to take on a completely different personality or be someone you’re not (which could come across as fake), subtly matching his demeanor, tone, hand gestures, posture and other body language will facilitate a nearly instant connection and make both of you more comfortable.
3. Show your personality.
Biotech and pharma are both serious industries. Depending on your chosen position, you may spend more time in front of a computer, in the lab or on the manufacturing floor than interacting directly with other humans. However, an engaging personality will still be helpful anytime you have to communicate with coworkers, supervisors, vendors or clients. Show your interviewer you’re quite personable by smiling and conveying friendliness during the interview. While you don’t want to force jokes into an interview, sharing appropriate humor and laughter can also build rapport.
4. Create a conversation, not an interrogation.
Unless this is your very first job interview, you’ve probably already learned the importance of asking questions that show you’ve taken time to research the organization, its history and its current needs. However, you may not realize that you don’t have to save these questions until the end of your meeting. Look for ways to interject them naturally throughout the interview, and you’ll create a more genuine back-and-forth conversation that will forge a connection between you and the employer.
5. Communicate your gratitude.
Don’t just thank interviewers for their time—sound like you really mean it. Tell employers how much you appreciate the opportunity and that you enjoyed the conversation. Ask for the hiring manager’s business card and follow up later that day with a gracious, well-written email. Many job seekers mistakenly believe that thank you notes don’t matter, but they are wrong. When it is meaningful (i.e. sincere and effectively communicating your interest in the organization as the next step in your career), an emailed or hand-written thank you can cement the rapport you’ve built with the employer and put the odds in your favor if she’s deciding between multiple qualified candidates.