I believe the art of listening is massively underrated. Too often we are so eager to talk, to share our opinions and win the argument that we fail to listen and learn from those around us.
Never is listening more important than at an interview. Of course we need to do our share of talking so they know who we are, but I’d always encourage the interviewer to talk early on. Why? Because it shows you are interested in them and their business, and demonstrates modesty and empathy. In some ways, more importantly, you are being given some great intelligence on the latest status of their business to which you can adapt your answers and your narrative. You can also use what you hear to demonstrate how interested you are in them, the role and, of course, to ask great questions.
The harder you listen, the more you learn and the more clues you will get about your potential employer. I’ve always been surprised at how little I’ve known about a prospective employer and what their business is really like. A good friend of mine is a fantastic listener. She proudly tells me about the clues she was able to pick up from one interviewer about the financial position of a business she was keen to join. Some question marks arose which made her dig deeper into the business and she decided not to take the role. Within a year the business was in administration.
To listen well, always be attentive and in the room. Always be curious by asking strong follow up questions. Observe how your interviewer responds; their discomfort may give you a clue that you really do need to dig deeper. Don’t be afraid to to reflect back what they have been saying to clarify your understanding. Great listening drives great questions which leads to a deeper understanding. Don’t be shy and miss the opportunity.
Listen hard and learn well.
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