I recently had the pleasure of visiting our long time clients at Prudential Carolinas, Prudential York Simpson Underwood, and Prudential Yost-Little Realty, all under the same roof in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. I had spoken to this executive team and group of managers on at least two previous occasions and have always enjoyed our interactions.
Part of my presentation involved a refresher course on the psychology of a good interview. Most of this section emphasizes the vital importance of listening to the candidate and eliciting as much information as possible during the first interview. The process involves asking a lot of open-ended questions about who they are, what’s their story, what’s causing them to make a career change now, what they hope to gain from working, etc.
My emphasis on the power of listening comes from volumes of research on how people make decisions concerning any important topic in their lives. To emphasize this point I used several non-hiring examples such as dating or making an important purchase.
Think back to when you were dating—would you rather hear your dates drone on about themselves or ask some thoughtful questions along the way? When you buy a computer, do you want the tech-sales-geek to expound on all the details of each machine, or would you rather he ask a few questions first and then focus on your needs?
Here is a counter-intuitive principle that is true of all human interactions: As people talk about themselves, they will learn more about themselves and feel more attached to you (the listener) in the process.
No matter how many times I deliver this presentation, managers continue to report how difficult it is to put this into practice. But, the group in North Carolina is starting to crack the code and seeing some incredible results.
During the presentation, one of the managers (Player Murray) gave the group some feedback on how this technique was working during his recent interviews.
"I'm not sure that I said much of anything in my last interview, and the candidate decided to come work for us!”
He went on to say that when he finally began to trust the process of first asking questions and listening, many interviews proceed with little need to describe much of what differentiates his company from others in the first interview.
"I am convinced that this is the number one principle to practice in the first meeting, and without it, I would not have hired many of the high quality candidates who came through HiringCenter. They feel valued and connected when I listen to them first and foremost."
Player has learned the magic of asking and listening. He has seen first-hand how people become attached to those who are interested in them. He doesn't do this to be manipulative, he does it because it’s the right thing to do—that’s why it works.
This story has been repeated with other managers across the country. Savvy, early-in-the- pipeline candidates who know little about the real estate industry will ask questions when they are ready. Even if they do ask some questions intially, don't be sucked into talking about yourself and your company too much. Instead, answer briefly and get back to asking and listening.
In fact, here is a good rule of thumb: Always assume you are not listening enough. At this point, you’ll probably be at the right level, and the magic will soon start happening in your interviews.
Question: How have you learned to become a more effective listener (in interviews or other situations)? When using these techiques, how have you noticed your relationships change?
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