If you thought interviewing was only about answering questions, you’ve been missing the point. You’ve also been missing an opportunity to gather valuable information. Listening is one of the skills most underutilized by candidates. Most people go into the interview thinking and worrying about how they will answer the questions, and they forget that they are there to find out about the job and the company. They forget to listen, observe and read between the lines.
Ready to Answer Questions
The first candidate, Reena sat answering questions and waiting for her turn. When asked, “Do you have any questions?” she was ready and took out her list of questions.
Sounds like she did everything perfectly. Right? Not quite. She forgot one thing, and that was to listen. If she had been listening, she would have heard the emphasis placed on retention. There were at least three questions asked about her plans for the future; how long she planned to stay with the company; why she had only stayed with her last company two years. If she had been listening, she might have been struck by the focus of these questions.
“I’ve heard some concerns about retention in the questions you’ve asked me. Could you tell me the turnover rate for this department/company?”
If she had asked that question she might have found out the turnover rate was quite high. In fact, that was a big problem for the company. If she had been listening, her next question should have been, “Is there a specific reason employees leave?” She may, or may not, have a gotten a forthright answer, but she would have been able to make her own judgment, and observe the interviewer for signs of discomfort with the question. Observing is another way of “listening” or taking in information.
Turn up your Intuitive Another candidate, Jerry, listened when he interviewed, and picked up the thread of questions pertaining to stress and long hours.
He asked, “On a scale of one to ten, with ten being high, how would you rate the stress and pressure levels in this department?” And then, “Is this the norm, or a seasonal level workload?”
He had already worked in a “sweat shop” where he was expected to work 60 plus hours a week. He isn’t about to walk into that situation again. He noticed the two interviewers look at each other when he asked this question, and they agreed it was a six. Jerry figured that must mean an eight or ten, and continued to ask more questions about the subject. He listened carefully – reading between the lines. He gathered information he wouldn’t have gotten had he not been on their wave-length – tuned in and listening. He now had enough information to make a decision as to whether he wanted to work for this company, in this department.
Rewards of Listening
When all you can think of is the answers that you will be giving, you miss a premium opportunity to garner information about the situation you are about to enter, if you take the job. The bonus of listening is that you impress the interviewer by the fact that you have heard what was said, and sometimes what was not said. The best questions you can ask come as a result of listening. Turn up your listening and intuitive skills. Read between the lines! You’ll be surprised at what you hear.
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