There’s a lot to a great interview. At its core though, is the drive to get a ton of data to make a good choice about your next hire. Do they have what it takes to make it in your company?
Two years ago I was about an hour early for a meeting so I went to the restaurant across the street. As it would happen, the owner of the restaurant sat in the booth next to me to conduct an interview for the new front of house position. As soon as they were seated I heard the owner ask, “So do you like front of the house work?” The candidate spent about 30 seconds answering this closed-ended question and the owner proceeded to talk for the next 45 minutes about the place, her passion for the food, and her excitement to build a great team. Astonishingly, the owner offered the candidate the job who in response looked completely thrilled but a little shocked.
Out of curiosity I asked the owner what she saw in the candidate. Her answer? “She’s a good listener.” When I asked, “How do you know she’s a good listener?” her response was slow to come but ultimately, “Well, because she was very polite and didn’t interrupt me. Truthfully though, she showed up. I need someone now. I really dislike the whole hiring thing anyway.”
Honestly, this is not an unusual occurrence. If you want data to make a good decision, you have to get the candidate talking… a lot. But not just any talking. You’ve got to manage the conversation. Orient yourself to talk only 10% of the time. It will take open-ended questions and rigorous follow up questions to manage their 90%. I love that the restaurant owner was watching the candidate’s behavior too; she showed up! But a 10/90 interview would have netted a much better understanding of this person’s social skills, her interest in the job, her thoughts on organization, and more.
The Part Where You Shut Up
When you aren’t talking for 90% of the time it’s also important to listen. The mistake most people make here is they listen to the chatter in their own head and not to enough of what the candidate is saying. One of my favorite listening exercises is called An Observation of Listening. Many of us think we are great at listening because we can do “active listening”. The Observation exercise involves an entire day of listening. Jumping into An Observation of Listening generally reveals that we are horrible at open-ended questioning and we listen to ourSelves too much. We get tired of listening and we end up turning to our own internal chatter instead of the candidate’s responses. “Wow, she loves this stuff. She uses funny words too. Assessment? What’s that supposed to mean? Actually, I think I’m better at listening than she thinks I am. I’ve got so much to do this afternoon and this is just sucking up my valuable time.”
You’ll find that staying in a conversation with someone doing 90% of the talking will take listening to a new level for you. You’ll need to ask deep probing questions and follow up questions based on what they are saying, so listen well and not to yourSelf.
I challenge you to conduct your own Observation of Listening (https://thehireeffect.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/An-Observation-of-Listening-Exercise-Blog-121217.pdf) and figure out what things you need to work on.
M. Miche Rayment is the Founder and Chief Facilitator for The Hire Effect™. The Hire Effect’s clients learn how to hire for themselves using a system developed specifically for small business hiring focusing on finding a cultural and skills match.