Monday, May 5, 2014



“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.”

― Stephen R. Covey,

This week I have had feedback from multiple candidates and clients that they did not feel they were “heard” in an interview.   We cram a very important information exchange into an interview that is usually 30 minutes to an hour.  From the candidate perspective it is their next job/career progression at stake.  On the employer side it is evaluating whether the candidate is right for the job and the culture. Is this the right person to invest in?

Truly listening to understand by both parties is critical to make the most of an interview.  Here are some tips.


Prepare your questions.  More than enough to fill the time slot in advance.  It would be a terrible waste for you not to be listening to a candidate because you are thinking about what to ask them next.

Don’t have a single “right answer” that you are looking for.  Truly listen to the entire answer that is given and evaluate that answer on its own merit with an open mind. 

Clear your mind of your other priorities, silence emails, silence phones and interview in a quiet space without distraction.  Honor the time slot allotted.  These candidates have taken time and prepared for this visit.  They deserve your undivided attention.


It is good to have a list of things you want to share but not at the expense of not listening to and directly answering the questions your interviewer has prepared. 

Once you sit down breathe deeply, clear your mind and focus on the interviewers questions. Allow a pause when the interviewer is done speaking to be sure that was the entire question and to give yourself a moment to organize your answer.

Do not ramble and elaborate outside of the content of the question.  A direct answer and one example is plenty. 

It is typical for an interviewer to share a bit about the job content and the company.  Listen carefully, with an open and inquisitive mind.  Let them finish.  If what they shared brought questions to mind it is ok to jot a note and when they are finished you can ask your question.  Sometimes this starts a great dialog.


It is better to have a quality exchange than burn through a list of question without really listening to each other.  If you feel time is short and you want more information you can arrange to follow up with a phone call, an email exchange or a second interview. 

Have you ever been in an interview where you felt the other party was not listening?  How do you handle a rushed interview?

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