Interviewing people is a difficult skill, but perfecting it is one of the best ways to ensure that you hire quality talent. This is why there are so many articles and books about the types of questions that you should ask in an interview.
However, there aren't many articles about using silence in an interview. Most people would think of not talking in an interview as unpleasant and stressful to the person you are interviewing, but you can simply pause after you have asked a question or a person has finished talking with the intent of allowing the candidate time to think while you spend a moment just being aware of the environment. These are called invitational silences, and they are an excellent interviewing tool.
It Lets The Interviewee's Personality Shine Through
Giving a candidate a few moments to add something once they have finished answering a question can lead to some interesting responses. The person may decide to elaborate. He or she might remember something new. It can also make an already nervous candidate blurt out something revealing.
The biggest revelation that the silence can bring, though, is how the candidate responds to silence. In our society, people are sensitive to it and often have noticeable reactions. Even when you are trying to make the silence as welcoming as possible, many folks will get nervous. A person might start rambling. Others will fidget, and others will take the time to think about their answers. These responses are indicators of the candidate's personality and how well they respond to situations.
It Makes A Better Listener Out Of The Interviewer
It is very tempting to think about the next question as the interviewee is answering you. As this article on PsychCentral points out, this keeps you from fully hearing someone's response or noticing their body language. When you give yourself a moment or two of silence after the other person has finished speaking, you have a chance to formulate a good follow-up question or digest what they just told you. This could net you a lot of information.
Using silence effectively during an interview takes a lot of practice. Fortunately, using a scientific method for hiring allows you to focus on perfecting your interviewing skills. This is why Nextaff uses the proprietary X-Factor process to find quality talent. If you would like more information about our processes and suggestions, download our free white paper on "Perfecting The Perfect Hire."
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