Do You Know How to Ace a Meeting for a Job?

Last week I took my redeployers (the people who come to WTP) to Koblenz. Before the Nazis came to power, 800 Jews lived there. Only twenty-two survived the war. I felt some trepidation as I walked the streets of the city. While window-shopping, I found a store with solid wood hangars at less than a Euro each. I went inside…

Connecting Can Entail a Bit of Risk

The shopkeeper hovered over me as I looked around his shop. He spoke to me in German when I picked up a VW Beetle keychain. No sprechen sie Deutsch, I replied. When I settled in front of the hangars, he struggled to explain the price to me.

At the register, I bent forward to reach my wallet. That’s when he saw my yarmulke. Juden? he asked. I froze for a moment, unsure what to do. But what choice did I have? Ya, Juden, I said. A huge smile came over his face. Pointing to himself he declared, “Me Juden!” A wave of relief flooded over me.

For the next twenty-five minutes, we conversed. My new friend was from Italy. He spoke German, Italian, and some of French. I spoke English, ten words of German, a bit of French, and some Spanish. At times we pantomimed. Despite the language gap, Enrico and I understood each other.

Having connected, we weer glad to help each other. We covered substantive and trivial issues. He told me the best places to see the Rhein and the Moselle rivers. He let me know the safe places to travel in France. I helped him learn a little Hebrew. He seemed to draw confirmation of his identity from this Navy rabbi showing up in his store.

All this grew out of our risking making a connection.

4 Four Ways to Create Rapport

You have the same primary task at a meeting for a job. Connect with the hiring manager. If you cannot do so, nothing else that happens will matter much. It can seem daunting to relate to someone so quickly. A few simple techniques will make it easier:

1. Starting Points. Geography, previous employment, alma maters, cultural touch points, life stages, and interests. All create connections. Are you from the same state or town? Were you both in the military? Did you go to the same school or were you crosstown rivals? Do you share the same religious denomination? Are your children similar in age?

2. Inside Contact. Ask your inside contact for some basic information about the hiring manager. After greeting each other and sitting down, bring up something that interests you in his background. The phrase, “I understand that…” is useful when asking for details. Say he rides a motorcycle. Try, “I understand you ride a motorcycle. What kind of bike do you have?”

3. LinkedIn and Online Biography. Check his profile on LinkedIn and the organization’s website. Look for information on schools, causes, and interest. Where do they intersect with yours?

4. Look for Connection Points in His Office. If you can't find any information in advance, give a quick glance around his office. What do you see that sparks your interest? Are there photographs of a fishing trip? Try this phrase. “Oh, I see you're into fishing. Where were these pictures taken?”

People like to talk about their passions. Make a connection by showing genuine interest. Once you’ve created some rapport, you stand a much better chance of having a successful meeting.