One of only three things that can be measured during a phone interview is communication. The interviewer is determining how well you communicate and how well you will work with the management team. Communication style is critical to cultural fit. If you are thinking verbal communication, in this instance you are half right. Most candidates think we are talking about one’s use of the English language and proper use of verbs, avoiding the word “like,” being succinct, and all the other verbal components of communication. Generally you are correct, but not this time.
This time I’m referring to listening skills. This is also a component of communication. Before you click away, recognize that study after study revealed that most people are not good listeners. In the case of candidates not being good listeners, this happens not necessarily because you are not generally a good listener, but rather because of the interviewing process itself.
Too often candidates don’t hear the complete question because mid-question they start thinking of an answer to the question that hasn’t even been asked yet. The candidate anticipates what they think the interviewer is going to ask and then starts formulating an answer in their mind. Too often to the wrong question.
I have interviewed over 10,000 people in my 30 years as a recruiter, and this is a constant battle. This is even more profound on a phone interview. I believe it’s due to the fact that the candidate can’t see the interviewer, and can’t tell by body language or eye contact when the end of the question is coming is one reason why it is such a problem on a phone interview.
Failure to listen to the complete question and then targeting the answer to actual question is one reason why so many qualified people never get the job. I hear this from hiring managers all the time.
Most candidates will be better off taking a slower approach and listening carefully prior to jumping in with an answer that isn’t relevant to the question.
Work on your listening skills. Don’t just assume you have good listening skills in an interviewing situation. This is a unique environment. You may be a great listener day to day, but when the pressure of an interview and your desire to do a great job collide during the interview, listening is usually the first thing to go.
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I welcome your comments and thoughts.