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There are two types of people in a job interview. Which are you?

Amy O'Neill

Interviews aren't just about answering all the questions 'right'. It's essential to form a connection with the person interviewing you.

I spoke to Joe Mellor, a Recruiter at ECOM, the UK's leading Digital Recruitment specialist. He claims "building a rapport is 90% of a job interview."

Drawing from his experience interviewing graduates, Joe says there are two clear personality categories interviewees fall into when it comes to building a rapport with their interviewer: stoppers and toppers.




If you're a stopper, it's likely you aren't the kind of person to ask lots of questions of the interviewer, you don't elaborate much beyond what's asked of you, and you forget that an interview is a two-way street - it's not just about you.

"A stopper will do one of two things: they'll either shut down the conversation completely, by offering no valuable response, or they'll twist the conversation to make it solely about them," Joe explains. 

This is the category you really don't want to fall into. Put simply, Joe says: "if you went into an interview as a stopper, you wouldn't get the job." 

A job interview isn't just about communicating your strengths as a candidate and the experiences you bring to the table - it's essential to communicate your interest in the company, the person interviewing you, and the broader sector which the company operates within. 

"If you only talk about yourself, even if that is drawing upon what the other person has said, you're a stopper," Joe adds. Though many grads assume their interview will be exclusively focused on them, Joe says, "If you leave knowing nothing about the interviewer, I'd put money on the fact that it was unsuccessful."




If you're a topper, it's likely you're the kind of person who adds to the conversation - you "top up" what the interviewer has said by asking questions, showing interest and putting forward some ideas of your own to expand upon theirs.

Far from stopping the conversation, or simply not furthering it, a topper "will enhance and develop the conversation by offering valuable contributions to it, or asking questions to find out more".

"They will take the information offered to them by the other person and give something back of benefit. They will show a genuine interest in what the other person is saying," Joe explains.  

For the interviewer, it's far easier to build a rapport with a topper - and so they come away with a much more positive impression. 



Not sure which you are? It's really easy to notice in day-to-day situations.

Joe gives the following analogy to explain the difference between toppers and stoppers: "when you're at a party and end up speaking for an hour to someone you've never met before, chances are they, or you, are a topper. Conversation has lasted an hour because you have an interest in something similar, but also because you/they are interested in hearing their/your thoughts on it.

"When you're at a party and conversation dries up with someone, it's usually because one of you has started a topic of conversation, and the other person has no interest in picking that conversation up and no interest in talking to you. Chances are they are a stopper."

"Obviously you can change whether you're a topper or stopper depending on your surroundings," he continues, "with your partner's parents, you're probably more of a topper than usual. When some drunk person in the bar is trying to start a conversation, you'll be more of a stopper." 

However, you are likely to naturally be one or the other. So, if you're naturally a stopper and you've got a job interview coming up, it's important to think about how you'll engage the interviewer. 



Strategies for building a rapport with your interviewer. 

If you want to be a topper at interview, and increase your chances of getting the job, preparation is key. 

So, do a practice run before the interview with a friend or family member - get used to asking questions that further the conversation and looking for cues to interject. 

Don't forget, you can never do too much research on the company and interviewer, as Joe says: "It's far easier to be a topper if you know the topic of conversation well, as you can add valuable insight and ask intelligent questions."

Make sure you go into your next interview with an idea of the interviewer's background, recent developments in the industry and a strong knowledge of the company. Bring your own ideas and come prepared to contribute to the conversation - not simply to get through it and answer each question asked of you. 

You can check out this list of questions to ask the interviewer, and this advice on how to be more confident at interview, for more information.