Published On: Mon, Jan 15th, 2018

Listen More During an Interview, and Talk Less!

Listen more and talk less is the best way to learn! One of my clients was going to hire a young attorney to work for his law firm. He asked me to participate in the interview process. He told me that he had already had a phone interview with the candidate and unless something terrible happens, he was going to hire this lawyer. I agreed and went to his office the next day for the interview.

The candidate was tall, handsome and looked very professional. He was 27 years old and graduated from a Florida law school. The managing partner of the law firm had a big smile on his face when the candidate walked into the conference room. He looked at me with a confident grin that he had found the right person to hire.

During an interview, it is best to talk less and listen more.

I sat at the conference table and just listened for an hour. My client talked the whole time telling the candidate all about the law firm. Finally, he looked over at me and asked me if I had any questions to ask the young lawyer. I said that I did have a couple of questions to ask him.

My first question was “On a one to ten bases, how competitive would you say you are with one meaning that you are not competitive and ten means that you are extremely competitive? The young attorney said “About a five.” I asked him to explain his answer. He stated that he was never athletic. He studied law because his father was an attorney and his dad pushed him into the law career.

You always learn more when you are listening and observing!

My second question was “On a one to ten bases, how important are the people that work in the law firm to you, with one meaning not significant at all and ten meaning critical.” The candidate said “Three.” I said, “Why a three?” He said that the clients are the important people, they are the ones that pay the fees. The people in the office have very little value to him.

I asked him eight other questions about his personality in which his answers were equally as bad. I asked him why he did not want to work in his father’s law firm. He shared with me that he and his father do not get along at all. I asked him why he chose this law firm to interview. He said that my client was his cousin. I stood up at that point, shook his hand, and thanked him for his time. As he walked out of the conference room, he looked at me and said that felt that he did not do very well with this interview. I said, “You are right, you did not!”

You learn more when you are listening. You learn nothing while you are talking.

My client talked to the candidate for approximately two hours and knew nothing about him. The problem was my client talked most of the time and never listened. This is a widespread problem amongst interviewers. I asked the candidate ten generic questions about his personality, and he failed the interview. The candidate’s father picked his profession. The candidate was not competitive. If I am hiring an attorney to work for me, I want him extremely competitive. I want him to have a personality that he refuses to lose.

My client was going to hire this candidate, and it would have been one of the worst decisions that he ever made since he started practicing law, which was his words. You cannot just go through the motions when picking a candidate to work for your company. He thanked me many times for showing him how to interview a candidate.

Please read my other articles on better hiring procedures: Invest Time and Money to Reduce Hiring Mistakes!

I’m Bob Curry, CEO Business Coach, an Author, and Turnaround Specialist. I just published my first book that is on sale at

From Red to Black, A Business Turnaround.

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About the Author

- Robert S. Curry is an author, seasoned business coach, and successful turnaround specialist. Earlier in his career, he served as President and CEO of three different companies, the largest with annual sales of more than $1 billion dollars - all which experienced successful turnarounds under his management. In the late 1990s, he started his turnaround consulting firm, and for the past twenty years, he has turned around more than seventy distressed companies in many different industries helping each to establish a strong management team and become profitable. He published his first book: From Red to Black – A Business Turnaround – The Matter of ABC Shutters. He resides in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, with his wife, Esther.

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