It’s What You Don’t Say That Can Matter Most

I recently had the opportunity to interview a potential new teammate. Several people within our organization knew this person, so he already came to us with positive recommendations.

And I liked this person. We haven’t hired him yet, but he might eventually join our team despite the fact that his first couple of interviews didn’t exactly get us off on the right foot!

With my background in the staffing industry, I have conducted more than my fair share of interviews over the past 25 years. For the most part, I enjoy them! I also have identified one essential skill that many interviewees seem to be lacking: the ability to listen.

As I watched this person communicate with the other leader in the room, I jotted down these notes knowing I would share them in this blog. Here are my takeaways.

Listening is a servant trait.

I want people on my team that have the heart to serve. Listening is a common skill set of the servant-minded. Listening and being interested is how we learn to help others beyond the surface level.

Calmness is essential.

When we are not calm we can’t expand our thinking. We don’t give ourselves enough room or time to flesh out our thoughts. Our quick, reactive answers keep us at the surface level and put boundaries up, both of which limit the interviewer from getting a good feel for who we really are.

You do not know it all (and we know that).

This isn’t meant to sound harsh. It’s just true. There is no reason to feel like you must have the perfect answer for every question or a solution for every problem. We come to the best solutions after we learn to listen to what the real problems are.

Don’t finish others’ sentences.

Unless you’re interviewing with your spouse, let the person speaking finish their own sentences. Haha. Why should I bother to expand my thoughts or voice them if you already think you know what I am going to say?

Wait for the period.

For us talkers, this takes patience and restraint, but it’s worth it and very much appreciated by those with whom you’re interviewing. Wait for the other person to completely finish their sentence before you start yours.

The encouraging news is that for many of us, good listening skills don’t come naturally; they are learned. As you go about your day (and especially if you have a job interview coming up), be intentional about what you need to do differently to become a better listener.

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