HR Forum

Building rapport through small talks


In my capacity as a HR Manager, I conduct a lot of interviews to find suitable candidates to fill up the many positions available in my organization due to continuous expansion.

However, despite my numerous experience in conducting these interviews, I still have problems sizing up the candidates to know more about their personality, competencies and attitudes against the jobs they are applying for.

Most of the time, these candidates often put up an ‘interview front’ where the real truth is hidden from me. How can you help me to sharpen my skill in this area?


The first most important thing to do is to build strong rapport with the candidates. When you can do this, they will automatically feel ‘safe’ with you. The ‘magic’ of this is that they will become natural and comfortable with you where they will be more empowered to ‘bare their souls’ without fears that what they say will be to their disadvantage. As we all know, most people are always on their guard when they are at interviews and thus their ‘fences’ have to be brought down if any worthwhile results are to be achieved here.

So how can we do this? I personally find that when we have the ability to do ‘small talks’ with people, they will become closer and grow to like us. So never get into the business of the interview itself but always start with some ‘icebreaking conversation’ first, with simple questions such as ‘How did you get here? Did you have any problem finding this place?’ Or even a statement like, ‘I like the shirt you are wearing, where did you get it?’

This is helpful in making the candidates feel at ease. After doing this, you can continue with small talk questions of a different kind where you can ask questions that reveal more about their personalities, such as ‘What is the most important event that has occurred in your life over the last month?’ You will, from their answers, be able to gauge more about their world meanings and life priorities.

Another one is, ‘What is one joyful occasion that you have experienced this year?’ This one will tell you a lot about their attitude and life balance. Or ask them to narrate their life stories, which will also reveal to you the kind of person they are.


• What do you have to watch out for in your energy when you are with people? • What positive feedback have you received from others that you can use more in your conversation with people?

• What have you learned about your previous interviews that will give you good clues on how to move forward to become an effective interviewer?

• Who are your good role models whom you can gain something from?

Article by Dr Michael Heah, an ICF Credentialed Coach with