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The One Mistake I See Most Interviewers Make

May 11, 2021

Business lessons can come when least expected. During a recent road trip, I stopped at a restaurant for lunch. As I arrived at my table, two women sat down a few feet from me. Both were professionally dressed and appeared to be meeting for the first time. With empty tables around us, I could clearly hear their conversation. I admit I was eavesdropping.

It quickly became apparent that this was an interview for a managerial position with a retail company. The interview started off with the usual pleasantries, a sharing of both career and personal information. But as it progressed into determining qualifications and fit for the job, I observed the one flaw many managers often make while interviewing candidates.

The interviewer would not stop talking. So much so, she rarely allowed the interviewee to talk.

Interviewing someone can be difficult. You only have a brief period of time to determine if the person is right for the job. Often, the inclination of an interviewer is to talk, describe the job and the skill set required, and in turn, hope to engage the interviewee in responding. But the time should be spent learning as much as possible about the potential hire, which can only happen through listening.

The best course of action for an interviewer is to arrive with a list of questions, then stick to asking those questions. Most importantly, listen diligently to how the interviewee answers, and then ask them to follow up on their answers with more explanation. Give them every opportunity to talk, even to the point of using silence if necessary.

It’s amazing what you can learn about a job candidate if you allow them to talk. But to do so, you must make sure you’re not doing all the talking.