I had a conversation with my husband Paul this morning about the creation of a clearing around us for others to step into. I mean this metaphorically speaking but especially around having great conversations and getting valuable information from others.
We all have that little voice in our heads, the one that speaks loudly, spruiking opinions about what’s being said, pushing us to jump in (at the first indrawn breath from our fellow conversationalist) with our next important view point, planning our answer and in general drowning out most of what the other person says. We do this for many reasons: to look important and knowledgeable, fight about our point of view being the right one, making others wrong, fill in uncomfortable gaps, give information ourselves and generally have a reason to be absent, not present, in our conversations.
This has a number of impacts, many of them of no real benefit to anyone.
In the workplaces I have come to work in, I find this is a common issue in relation to the recruitment of new staff. In many interviews I have sat in on, the hiring manager or business owner feels it is their job, or they just can’t help themselves from immediately jumping into the breach to share with potential employees about the job, the company , the culture, their goals & visions and what a wonderful team they have before they ask anything more than a rudimentary question or two about the potential employee, then, everyone runs out of time or interest.
At the end of the interview;
the hiring manager feels he/she has done a great job of informing the potential recruit about the role, selling the company and “talking them into taking the job”
the potential staff member gets to either hide what their shortcomings are, or they feel there is no real interest in what they have to offer, and feel over-run or unheard.
As the interview is a time to explore the possible fit for the employer /employee dynamic, there is usually a better way of approaching this.
PLAN your interview upfront and
“Make some space”
for the potential recruit to step into and show you what they have to offer.
1) You should already have a list of what attributes and competencies you are looking for – a mixture of behavioural attributes as well as technical expertise is important so you should be on the lookout for evidence supporting the presence of these in your future employee during the interview.
2) You should always have a list of 6 – 10 “High Gain” questions that you are going to ask everyone to have a common platform to compare the applicants against. High gain questions start with “what, how, who, when, how & why” and are designed to get you in-depth revealing answers about that person. They should be around the items in point 1 above.
3) Space abhors a vacumn, so place the questions into the interview “space”, step back in your mind and let the potential employee fill the vacumn with what they have to say. They will either ramble about many things relevant or not, they may say 2 words or phrases only, they may stumble in their reply, or they may wax eloquent. All in all, from creating this space, what you are far more likely to get is a much better picture of what they are like and whether their style, attitude, competencies and style are what you need. Once you have this information, then YOU can share your vision, goals and culture.
If you jump in and fill the space up front, they will know lots about you and the company, but you will know too little about them and may either lose some gems with heaps of potential, or hire some diamonds that are just a bit too rough in the process. Either way, you will find your self back on the drawing board again.
PS: Take the time to do this in your personal life too, if you stop crowding others out with your side of the argument and give them some space to step into in your conversations, what you hear and uncover may expose all sorts of potential learnings.