At the end of this blog is a link to a 7-minute TED talk that you may want to make time for. Presented by Julian Treasure, a Business Sound Expert, it is food for thought.

It seems that the art of listening is another dying art, and is obviously closely connected to the art of conversation, yet another of the dying arts. Communication, it seems, is in a death spiral.

Apparently as messages, once dependant on the spoken work, could be captured by the written word, and then by audio recordings and finally by video recordings as well, the ability to listen - with conscious presence and with a remarkable ability to retain what is heard - began to diminish. We now, apparently, retain only about 25% of what we hear!

Pull in Twitter and texting, and you can see how conversations are being replaced by sound bites. This won't work in an interview!

Tomorrow I am coaching a recent resume client who lost out on a job offer but was fortunate to get great feedback from the interviewer. Her interview answers, she was told, lacked depth. I am seeing a correlation here in the demise of the art of conversation and interview success.

And yesterday I read a comment from a colleague who once had a client, a professional, well-educated client, who had landed 100 interviews with her resume, but who received not one job offer. This client refused to believe that she did not interview well and refused to consider interview coaching. Clearly this client was not listening, not hearing, not absorbing a critical message! (However that might be more related to a bias or assumption than an inability to hear!)

Listening is, as Mr. Treasure says, our access to understanding. And that's critical in an interview! You must be present, fully present (no daydreaming of tomorrow's trip to the beach) so that you receive what you hear (absorb and interpret and retain), so that you can appreciate the message (murmur little acknowledgements with mmhmm and so on), summarize what you've heard if necessary (so I hear you say that), and ask for clarifications or more info.

That's part of the art of conversation. And I strongly believe that an interview must be a conversation, not an inquisition. The balance of power belongs as much to the candidate as to the interviewer. And the interview can often be steered from inquisition to conversation by the candidate with a few simple tools. (There are always anomalies where the recruiter seems to be a reincarnation of a Grand Inquisitor and nothing will work. Consider well if you should accept an offer from that company!)

If you need assistance with interviewing, don't bury your head in the sand as did my collleague's client, rather give me a call and book an hour for coaching that will prepare you for a dynamic and interactive interview session!

- working hard to get my clients employed! Stephanie


The Art of Listening