Although they may seem like every day banter, the first, friendly, “nothing” questions that you ask a candidate are still part of the interview. We call those “rapport questions,” and they’re designed to make the candidate more comfortable talking to you, get you more comfortable talking to the candidate, and make sure that the two of you are able to start getting to know each other.
These questions can be important. Imagine that you have a candidate coming in for an interview and you ask them “did you find the place okay?” and their answer is “no, your map was awful, whoever created it should be fired.” Immediately your reaction should be that this is not a candidate you want in your office.
What Rapport Questions Give You the Most Information?
Although these questions are largely designed to make candidates comfortable, there is no harm in being a bit strategic with how you ask them. As long as you’re careful not to “overjudge.” Meaning, as long as you don’t hold a perfectly reasonable answer against someone, then you can consider the rapport questions a formal part of the interview.
In general, rapport questions are designed to identify negative personality traits, like a complainer or someone that is unprofessional. It is also designed to capture the best of the best – the candidates that are engaging and intriguing and fit in well with the company.
- Have You Been Enjoying the Weather?
This is one of the easiest questions to ask, and one of the most effective at catching negative people. If the weather has truly been awful it is okay to provide a little complaint, but there is a difference between someone laughing and saying “it’s not my favorite” compared to someone that answers “It’s depressing” and says little else.
- How Was Your Weekend?
Be careful not to judge people for their personal life. You don’t want to avoid candidates that do perfectly reasonable activities, just because they’re not what you like in a person (such as gambling or doing nothing). But watch for answers that are clearly negatively focused.
- How Do You Like Our Office?
If you have a modern, sleek office, or something that most people really enjoy, this is a good question to ask, as it reveals how dedicated they are to getting the job. If they don’t say anything positive, that’s a big red flag. It can also open up the door to talk about their previous workplace, and you can see if they talk about it in a positive it negative light and why.
- Any Plans Coming Up?
This question is also useful because it identifies applicants that may have upcoming plans you need to know about, but they were afraid to ask you. As usual, it also gives the applicant a chance to be engaging or show they have great goals. Don’t necessarily hold a “no plans” answer against them though. See if they’re engaging and thoughtful with their responses instead.
- How Do You Like Living in CITY?
Finally, perhaps the best question to ask is what they think about the city. Everyone has strong opinions of where they live. If those opinions are negative, then it’s clear they were not prepared to impress you or they are lacking in social talents. This is also their chance to give answers that are engaging, or give answers that are boring and thoughtless.
Asking the Right Questions
Rapport interview questions are just one piece of the interview puzzle, and unlike some interview answers that can exclude the candidate from consideration, all candidates should be given a chance even after a bad rapport interview answer – because, by definition, rapport questions are there to help someone get comfortable, and may not reflect their overall talent.
But it’s also important to remember that your job is to find the best talent that will also fit into the workplace, with an attitude that is useful for the company and a personality that will fit in well. So if you receive a lot of negative answers, or something about the way the candidate answers the questions rubs you the wrong way, that should be something you think about when you consider whether or not to hire them.