Listen Slowly

Interviewing tactics have shifted away from traditional techniques. What is the best interview tactic in your toolbox? A recent article from‘s Jeff Haden suggests that the best method is the one you never use. Usually, the more questions you ask, the better your know the candidate, right? That might not be the case.

Regardless of the tactic, you’re typically asking questions and the candidate is answering them. You’re mentally noting whether or not the answers are matching up to your expectations. There’s a limited amount of time and a lot of ground to cover in an interview and everyone deserves a fair chance, right? What method will yield the best information about this candidate, especially if simply asking questions isn’t enough? Try to listen slowly.

Rodger Dean Duncan, management coach and author of Change-Friendly Leadership, gives some tips about listening slowly from his interview with Jim Lehrer, anchor of PBS NewsHour:

He urged me to ask a good question, listen attentively to the answer, and then count silently to five before asking another question. If you resist the temptation to respond too quickly to the answer, you’ll discover something almost magical. The other person will expand on what he’s already said or he’ll go in a different direction. Either way, he’s expanding his response, and you get a clear view into his head and heart.

When you give the candidate sufficient time to think about their response, they can answer you the way they’d like to, not just spout off answers for the sake of answering the question. Treat the interview as a conversation, and giving that five seconds softens the situation and makes it a more comfortable exchange of information.

Not every interview question requires listening slowly. Some things are fine to speed along. Listen slowly to the really important questions that allow the candidate room for self-analysis or introspection. Providing the candidate with a gap will lead them to fill it, and that’s when you really learn more about the person. Everyone discloses a little extra when they realize that you’re actually listening. To read more about how to get the most out of interviews and how to utilize the listen slowly technique, click here to read the full article.

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