For the Interviewer- Listening

Len Addington By Len Addington, 27th Feb 2018 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL
Posted in Wikinut>Jobs>Interviews

In our culture listening well seems to be declining as an activity many are good at. Some listen only in preparation to express their opinions or agreement. This may work well in social settings but does not meet the needs of clients who are seeking services or in need of assistance or counseling to deal with the difficulties they face in life. True listening must be cultivated if we are to effectively help others.

How well do we listen?

At a birthday party, anniversary celebration, or backyard barbeque, conversations abound. Children, as they grow up, their successes or actions. Sports teams and their standings, or favorite recipes may all be discussed. What is happening across the street, city, nation or world may be overheard as we meander through the people assembled there.

If we could read minds, we would see that most who are there, listening to others, are thinking of their agreement or disagreement with what is being heard, or are crafting their response or anecdote to what they are hearing. This is fine for social gatherings where much that is said will be noted but probably forgotten within the week.

Listening with intent in the marketplace.

But we listen differently in other situations! When buying a house or car, considering the advantages of one product over another, we listen to the terms of the contract, or the functional capabilities of what we are about to purchase. We ask questions, sometimes for clarity, or because some detail was not covered that could affect the decision we make on our purchase. What we learn may make or break the deal!

Listening as an element of helping others

Think about listening differently. If I asked you to read the first chapter of a book and then tell me what the whole book was about, you'd immediately protest: "that's impossible!" But as we interview, do we begin mentally preparing our response before the interviewee has presented their whole situation? If so, are we constantly scrambling to amend our thoughts or ideas until we have the bigger picture? We can be more effective if we approach the interview differently.

Listen to your client with the same intensity you would listen to a CD or audiobook of a seminar you have attended and purchased. Just as you obtained the CD, audiobook or download because of the value of the information or message, learn to listen to the man or woman sitting across from you with the same attention. In listening to your CD, you are not preparing a rebuttal or question to the author. Your focus is on the content, with some reflection on the concepts and how they can change your life.

As you listen to your client, you are assessing what services will meet their needs. You will be providing information to the interviewee at the end of the interview and your final presentation may be different than your first initial thoughts. Think of your interview as a jigsaw puzzle that is only completed when the interview ends. What they present in the interview, the needs they have, and the eligibility criteria or other services they should receive are all the outer frame of the puzzle. Your assistance, services, counsel, etc. are the pieces that will complete the puzzle. You should always end the interview with a summary of what has been discussed, what their next step is, and your role in that if you will continue to be assisting them.

The outcome.

As you learn to listen more effectively, the length of the interview will shorten, but be more productive. Your focus on your client will heighten, and the quality of your services will improve. You will find yourself less stressed about the time you spend in each interview. You will also become more proficient in using the information gathered to assist your clients.

I recommend you review an earlier article, For the Interviewer-The Written Report, as this may also be helpful in your efforts to meet the needs of others.


Counseling, Helping Others, Intake, Interviewing, Psychology, Social Work

Meet the author

author avatar Len Addington
I worked as a Counselor for 40 years. I gave my clients dignity and worth and modeled a life of integrity. I will post articles on careers and counseling and anecdotes.S

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