5 Simple Ways to Build Trust in a Job Interview

Trust Under ConstructionInterviewing for a job can be a stressful experience. The first impression you create in the interview can make or break your chances of landing the job, so it’s important to show up with your A-game. Most hiring managers are asking themselves this question during the interview process: Is this person qualified and can I trust him/her to do the job well?

I’ve interviewed dozens upon dozens of job candidates over the years, and based on my experience as a hiring manager and as a subject-matter expert on trust, I can tell you there are some very simple things you can do to build trust with prospective employers. All too often job candidates rule themselves out of contention by not paying attention to these basics of interviewing. If you want to build trust in a job interview, do the following:

1. Proofread your resume — In this day and age there is no excuse for typos and obvious grammatical mistakes on a resume. Your resume reflects your level of professionalism and attention to detail. It’s often the first impression you make with a prospective employer and you want it to accurately and positively display your personal brand identity. When I see a resume chock full of errors, my first thought is to have doubts about trusting this person to do a quality job. If they aren’t doing a quality job on their own resume, why should I think they’ll do a good job on my team? In a sad twist of irony, the more prevalent technology has become in our lives, the more carelessness I’ve seen in resumes. Proofreading your resume is more than running spellcheck in a word processing program. Read it out loud, have others read your resume, and use tools like grammerly.com to make sure your resume is the best it can be.

2. Research the company — If you want to build trust with a potential employer, do your homework on their organization. Just like proofreading your resume, this tip sounds like a no-brainer, but believe me, it’s not. You would be surprised at how many people show up to an interview not having taken the time to do a quick Google search on the company or check the Linked-In profiles of the people with whom they’ll be interviewing. Devoting the time to educate yourself on the organization builds trust in your capabilities to take the initiative to learn what you need to know to accomplish your goals.

3. Be humbly confident — People want to trust in your expertise, however, coming across as a narcissistic superstar turns people off. Don’t shy away from tooting your horn about your accomplishments, but do it in a gracious, humble, and professional way. One way to do that is to use “we” language instead of “me” language. Emphasize the way you’ve collaborated with others to achieve goals and freely share the credit with those who’ve partnered with you. You don’t need to blow out another person’s candle so yours can shine brighter.

4. Be honest and transparent — You build trust with others by showing a level of vulnerability that’s appropriate for the context of the situation. Share information about yourself, including your strengths and areas where you know you need to improve. Of course you want to present your areas of growth in a positive light, but you also want to be genuine and authentic. People can sniff out a fraud, and the worst thing that can happen is selling a new employer a bill of goods by making yourself out to be something you’re not.

5. Send a thank you note — Sending a thank you note is Interviewing 101 yet it’s become a lost art in today’s world. Not only does sending a thank you note give you the opportunity to reiterate your strengths and address any areas of concern that were discussed in the interview, but it builds trust by showing your prospective employer that you truly care. Whether you send the note electronically or handwritten (I suggest both), make sure you do it promptly after the interview. In today’s fast-moving society of surface-level friendships, taking the time to express your appreciation sets you apart from the crowd.

Trust in a relationship is composed of four main elements and we build trust when we act in ways that align with those elements. The five simple suggestions listed above are trust-boosting behaviors and using them will enhance your trustworthiness during the job interview process.

Randy Conley is the Vice President of Client Services and Trust Practice Leader at The Ken Blanchard Companies. His LeaderChat posts appear the fourth or last Thursday of every month. For more insights on trust and leadership, visit Randy at his Leading with Trust blog or follow him on Twitter @RandyConley.

7 thoughts on “5 Simple Ways to Build Trust in a Job Interview

  1. These are important to an interview, and critical to creating the kind of relationship where the employer sees you as a viable candidate. But I am not sure I would say these build trust.

    As a job search coach, I consider there are several other things you need to do to build the trust you are speaking of:

    1. Be transparent when you speak of weaknesses. Be ready to talk about them as easily as you do strengths. Sure you can talk about what you have learned from weaknesses, how you compensate for them, and how you use them to make you strong, but they are still weaknesses.

    2. Don’t come just to sell yourself, but to find the employer’s needs, problems, and future plans so you can show how you might contribute. Focus on them, and not just on what you are looking for.

    3. Be willing to say, “I don’t know” at least once in any interview. Don’t force it. But if you don’t know, admit it. This will earn trust because the employer will know you tell the truth.

    4. Don’t talk too much. Get the interviewer to talk. The more you talk, the more you are selling yourself. The more they talk the more they will realize you are interested in what they have to say, and what they consider to be their priorities. This will sell them as much as what you might say about yourself.

    Thanks for the reminder Randy, that trust really is important in a job search, and that candidates need to think about how they can achieve that, and be prepared to be honest with their interviewers.

  2. I would also add : listen well, take a moment to formulate your response and be prepared with your own questions (to show you’ve done your research) and to ask them about their vision and challenges.

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