Archive for January 2012
If only I had a Pound for the amount of times customers say: “He is a lovely chap, but his listening skills are not great!” when I ask for interview feedback.
Listening is a hugely important communication skill, and one that we don’t often practice enough. So, if you really want to do well in an interview, it’s important to focus on the questions and to make sure that you take time to give appropriate and well-formulated answers.
What should you try to avoid at all costs?
Assuming you know the questions before you hear it
Not all interviews ate the same. Not all interviewers expect the same answers. It’s really risky to think that, because you might have heard a similar question in the past, you know how to respond! You believe you already know what the interviewer is going to say. When this happens, it is easy to hear only part of the question, as you mentally anticipate the rest of the question or statement. The problem is that often you are incorrect. You THINK you heard what the prospect said, when you really heard what was in your own mind.
If you LISTEN to the full question, with making any assumptions, you are likely to not only understand the words, but also the context. This will help you give a far more relevant and appropriate answer. It helps keep you on track and focussed, instead of veering off at a tangent.
Formulating your response before the question has been posed
It is human nature to begin to formulate the response to the question while the interviewer is still speaking. You believe you know exactly what they are going to say, and you begin rehearsing in your mind what you will say back. Being over-anxious and keen to respond immediately, you might even tend to cut off the interviewer in mid-sentence. This is not only rude, but also a really dangerous strategy as you might get the wrong end of the stick by not hearing the person out!
Wait until the question has been stated, and then count to three before you open your mouth. This not only helps you listen and digest exactly what the prospect said. Do not be too quick to “have an answer for everything.” Take time and show the interviewer that you are thinking. It will keep you on track, you are likely to provide a far more consolidated response and the interviewer will feel that you took cognisance of the questions.
Lack of eye contact
Don’t allow your eyes to wander – Listening entails more than just your ears. You have to listen with your eyes and emotions.
Maintain constant eye contact and engage with everything the interviewer is saying. Take in and note body language, facial expression and movements. You need to SEE and FEEL what is being said, in addition to hearing it.
Most final hiring decision are taken on the basis of the interviewers “gut feel”
Do they like you or not? Do they think you fit in with their team and ethics? This is beyond what is stated in your CV. Its everything to do with who you are, in it really might be the defining factor that wins the job!
To all my valued Candidates and Blog followers:
I had the good fortune of being able to spend a wonderful holiday in South Africa over Christmas and the New Year. Although I received a typical reality check in the form of a nasty cold on my return, the experience I had will stay with me forever! I wanted to share the following with you. It’s a speech I am delivering at Toastmasters, and I thought it worth posting it in its entirety. I hope you find it motivational!
Its hot, about 37 degrees Celsius. The sun is beating the dry landscape into submission. Overhead, they sky is indigo blue and stretches on forever, with just a few white strands of cloud building in the high pressure. Below you, there is a 50 fifty foot drop opening up into a craggy landscape, with the gorge dipping deeper into the earth as it reveals the river, far below.
Straight ahead, a wire extends into the distance, over the gorge. It sways slightly in the gentle breeze. You are attached to this wire with only one carabena hitched into a pulley. You are harnessed up and you are wearing a crash helmet. Your heart is racing!
You squat on the edge, holding on to the control handle above your head. You try to remember: Push up to go, down to brake. You also remember signing the disclaimer back at the safety briefing!
The guide pats you on the back. You lie back a bit, get your balance. Then you kick free and launch yourself into that steep green gorge, flying through the air, suspended by only a pulley and that single carabena.
The adrenalin rushes, the wind is in your face, you see the vegetation and mountainous rocks far below. If you straighten your body, feet ahead, you go faster. Its exhilarating and furious as you gain speed and rush into the open air. As you go, a strange sound meets your ears and you realise its your own voice, echoing off the rock walls and bouncing back at you triumphantly.
Ahead you see a guide. He’s gesturing wildly – Brake!!!!
You realise that if you don’t stop yourself, you will hit the rock face. Pull down to stop!
Then you realise you were a bit too keen! You do stop, too far away from the guide to help you onto the platform. He gestures. As you were taught, you swivel your body around as you dangle in thin air, starting to sway a bit in the breeze that draws through the canyon. Below, the rocks look sharp and uninviting. Keeping hands clear from the pulley, you engage your stomach muscles and start to pull yourself to safety, hand over hand. It’s not far, only about 4 meters, but it feels like miles!
Then the guide grabs the back of your harness and you’re on terra firma, the craggy rocks now feeling welcoming and safe. Your knees quiver a little from the exertion.
“Well done Ma’am. You,re the first one to cross!”
Before you walk on to the next line a few meters away, you look back across the divide. The rest of the party are crowding around on the other side – Someone has lost the nerve. She fainted on the edge of the gorge. Fortunately, she was already attached to the safety equipment.
As you leap into the next portion of zipline, you feel empowered and free. This is the way to kick-start a new year!
And that, is how I started 2012 – Dangling at the end of a wire in stunningly beautiful landscape in South Africa. At 1,4km, it is the longest zipline in Africa. It is fast, its high, it’s a physical, mental and emotional challenge. It’s not the home territory of a Recruitment Consultant from Surrey! So why did I do it?
I wanted this to be a year of success, of personal growth and rising to challenges. At the end of 2012, I want to be a better person than the person I was at the start. That is a big ask. As human beings, we always take the easiest path. We sit back, we tremble, we look in fear at what life throws at us and often, we doubt our own abilities to deal with those challenges.
But as I stood waiting for the other members of the party to complete the challenge, I realised that I had won through on my own. Not everyone made it over, it was too high and too fast for some and they opted out. Some made it over in tandem with a guide. Those who did do it on their own, were exhilarated, proud, almost fearsome in the confidence that was bred during those few minutes of personal challenge.
So this will be my focus for 2012. If challenges arrive, I will remember pulling myself backwards out of thin air on that zip line. I will remember the exhiliration and adrenalin rush as I kicked away from the base, launching myself bodily into thin air. If I can do all that for myself, by myself, woman alone, are there any day-to-day challenges that I am not empowered to overcome?
This I want to share with you: I believe that, as humans, we are our own worst enemies when it comes to achieving goals or overcoming obstacles. It is only when we are out of our comfort zones, that we learn who we really are and how we are equipped to achieve our ambitions.
Next year, I am considering a white water rafting expedition on New Years Day. What are you doing to make yourself better?”