Even though they don’t admit it, the inability to build rapport is the number one cause why someone is not going to be offered a position. Our world of Public Finance and Investment Banking is so small that you will be working very closely with the managers and/or practice chairs that hire you. Some of the managers and chairs will elect to micro-manage their new employees at first until they feel comfortable with their thought and decision making process. If you are unable to build rapport, you are not going to get hired.
So how do you build rapport? Obviously by sharing who you are and what you stand for, and more importantly, what you can bring to the new firm. If you elect to not share this information, it will be hard for you to show what you have to offer. They must be very comfortable that you will fit in with their work culture. As you are aware, each company has a specific culture. Some are like families, teams, more dictatorial, and some are very hands off. For a manager to determine that you will fit their needs, they will have to elicit certain information from you that will only come out during the interview process. Saying too little will not build rapport and lead him or her to “feel” that you are not communicative, or worse. They may start to think that you are not being forthright and have something to hide.
Let’s address both of those points. Not being communicative could translate that you are shy, you are unprepared, or that you do not like engaging in conversation. There is no way that you will build rapport by keeping quiet, even if it is a part of your personality. All of those traits will only lead to a “turn down.” Being unprepared for an interview is basically demonstrating to the interviewer that you really are not caring if you make a good impression or not. Being unprepared also states that you were not willing to take the time to research the firm. If you are not willing to take the time to delve into the new firm, how are you going to take the time to really understand your clients and future issuers? Being unprepared clearly is just being rude to the manager that has taken the time to do his or her due diligence with a recruiter or colleagues on you. The second point, which is usually more prevalent, is that you have something that you are not willing to share and because of this overriding thought, you “clam up” in other ways. For instance, if you have been released for reasons that you do not agree with, you may be afraid to volunteer that information. You may feel it will show poorly upon you. But rest assured the hiring manager is going to know that you have been released and will, on the converse, want to explore the reasons why. This could be a great opportunity to build rapport with the hiring manager. If you do not share your thoughts, they will think the worse rather than hear from your point of view. By saying too little you leave everything up to the interviewer’s imagination. Statistically that will mean they will think the worse. Is that what you want?
About Harlan Friedman, JD & Founding Member, H. Friedman Search LLC. Harlan is a thirty-year veteran Public Finance Banker turned recruiter who specializes in the placement of all level Public Finance Bankers, Health Care Bankers, Municipal Financial Advisors, Compliance Officers, FinOps & Bond Counsels. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 760-477-1284.