Talk Less, Listen Skillfully and Learn More

Posted on: May 14th, 2013 by
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A mentor, some years ago, gave me two pieces of sage advice.  First, you can’t learn a lot when you’re talking, only reiterate what you already know.  You learn by listening, reading or experiencing.  Second, questions that are well formed and placed will give you the most insightful and valuable information.  It’s what others can share with you that provide the bridge to learning.

Some people are great talkers.  Others can be terrific listeners.  A few can do both well and some who can do neither.  Make an assessment of your strengths and weaknesses by asking friends to rate your skills with each.  The key to being successful during an interview is to balance the two, while knowing when to do one or the other.

A few of the important factors to consider when interviewing:

  • How much time do you have in the interview?  Few people ask, but you need to make sure you have adequate time to ask your important questions.
  • What’s the ratio of getting information or giving information?  The more you give, the less time to receive important information.  The reverse is also true.  Identify what the balance should be and make sure both factors are covered.
  • People who know you well should be able to rate your balance of talking versus listening.  Do you dominate conversations?  How well do you respond to questions?  Do you ask intelligent, well-formed and placed questions?
  • The interviewer will know more about you through your resume than you know about the organization or the actual position to be filled.  You should be able to balance that disadvantage by your research prior to the interview.  Your knowledge of the company’s history, competition, products, strategies and their financial reports should give you excellent insights to respond to interview questions.

Your objective at the end of an interview:  You want them to want you.  How do you achieve that objective?  Convey that you achieved a similar result in another organization and can translate that success here.  That only works if you can identify the issues.  You can only do that by asking the right questions.  You’re a non-candidate unless you can get answers to well constructed questions.

Practice asking the well formed and placed question.  Knowledge is power.  You can only gain that knowledge through others.  You can’t learn by talking.

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