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In his article How to Build Better Rapport For Better Research Interviews, Michael Margolis provides five key techniques to improve interview rapport.

  1. Think of each research meeting as though it were a dinner party, and you are the host. Imagine you are the ideal host at a dinner party; you’re welcoming, attentive and encouraging. You make sure everyone is at ease.
  2. Quickly identify someone’s social status and set your own to complement theirs. During an interview, if you act too high or low status relative to the person you’re interviewing (whether it’s a CEO or a student), you might have trouble connecting with them. But learning to read basic status cues can help identify and correct those discrepancies.
  3. Understand the Seesaw Principle: Status isn’t fixed. You can lower someone’s status by raising your own and vice versa. If you raise your status, it lowers theirs. Or you can boost others status by lowering your own.
  4. Focus on the other person as much as the information you need to gather.  Remember that the process can be intimidating for the other person. When you sense an interviewee’s discomfort, or just feel like you’re not connecting well with that person, check your body language and theirs for clues and correct.
  5. Beware of external factors that affect rapport; clothing, recording equipment, sensitive topics, other people around you.

Happy interviewing!

Image: Jonathan Wenk