The importance of being an attentive and active listener during interviews
By Renée Cohen
Proposal Manager & Contributing Writer at Quantum
Congratulations! You’ve been invited to a third (and hopefully final) job interview.
Over the past few weeks, you’ve been engaged in a promising courtship with Company X over a role that is perfectly aligned with your skills and work history. The first two interviews with the hiring manager went well, and now you’re looking forward to meeting your potential future boss and colleagues. You are 99% positive that you are one step away from securing the role of your dreams.
The Final Interview
Donning your favorite green shirt (despite your sister’s advice to “wear red to convey confidence”), you achieve the perfect lighting and backdrop for your remote interviewing space, (as per Quantum’s how-to-nail-your-video-interview), you click on “join meeting now,” and, at last, the final interview begins!
Go get ‘em!
Perfectly prepared, you eloquently answer all the tough questions that come your way, ensuring that you highlight your skills, attributes, and successes humbly – whilst simultaneously demonstrating how you will be an asset to Company X. (And given the positive reaction you seem to be inciting, you are confident an offer is imminent!)
Not so fast…
Remember, aside from being mindful of your own responses and the projection of your own genuine (albeit, fabulous) image, there are other important factors to consider. Most notably, the attitude, behavior, and chosen words of your interviewer(s).
Being attentive to the environment and to the events that unfold during the interview will enable you to pick-up on any red flags that arise. Paying close attention to how your interviewer/s interact with you, and amongst each other, can be very revealing ─ and may even provide some indications that this seemingly perfect job, is neither perfect, nor a fit for you.
During an interview, take note of the following:
- When your potential future boss has the floor, are your potential future colleagues silent out of respect, or do they appear to be cowering in fear?
- Do you notice any eye rolling or any exchanges of sidelong glances between colleagues?
- If representatives from different teams are present, does one team bear a condescending attitude toward another?
- Does anyone imply either subtly or overtly that a particular team or individual is incompetent?
Granted, on occasion you may be confronted by an interviewer or an entire team who, collectively, are having an unusually bad day. Regardless, taking the time during the interview to both observe people’s actions and to really listen to what’s being said, will be helpful in your assessment of the situation. When given the opportunity, ask questions about the work or the corporate culture, and be sure to ask for clarification regarding any issue or concern that could be a potential deal breaker for you.
Think twice before accepting any offers if your gut tells you something is off. If, for example, your interviewer casually mentions that over the past four years, five people were hired for the role, but they all quit ─ do take heed!
Placing an overly narrow focus upon your own performance and goals during an interview without heeding the red flags and revelations of your interviewer(s) may, unfortunately, lead to the acceptance of a job offer you’ll come to regret ─ in which case, it probably won’t be too long before you too understand why your five predecessors went running for the hills.
It is always preferable to avoid making a decision that could lead to the creation of a red flag on your own CV. Being a keen observer and an attentive and active listener during interviews will help you when it is time to accept or refuse an offer. Remember, if you sense that Company X’s corporate culture is an unbearably frosty one, don’t waste your energy bundling up. Instead, let Quantum help you in your search for warmer climes.