Fans of the old Kung Fu TV series (who get the joke of David Carradine advertising the Real Yellow Pages), will recall the tagline description of the Shaolin warrior-monks: LISTENED FOR – they cannot be heard. LOOKED FOR – they cannot be seen. FELT FOR – they cannot be touched. Which happens to be the description of an A-1 interviewer.
Fortunately, unlike Kwai-chang Caine, you don’t need to spend years of meditating and splitting boards with your hands to comprehend this. You don’t even need to get dragon and tiger brands. Lessons are all around you:
How many times has your spouse said “Are you listening to me?” and you’ve mumbled “Uh-huh.” You were being truthful – your ears were working, but your mind wasn’t. Listening is a physical function; hearing is a mental one.
Similarly, how many times have you looked for your wallet or keys, only to give up and then spot them … in a place you had looked. Again, looking is a physical action, while seeing is a deliberate mental action. You overlook things (like keys on the counter – and typos!) because your unfocused mind lies – it’s already said, “They can’t be here.”
How about touch? Back to those elusive keys – you patted your pockets, the newspaper, the sofa. You get the drift by now – your mind was lying again.
What does this have to do with interviewing? If you only listen, look and feel (a sense that is usually not that much used in interviews), you will come away with what you expected to … and possibly miss things that could have added detail and depth to your final product.
The more you can push back your preconceptions, the more room you make for what’s actually going on in the interview. This is especially important in personality profiles and human interest stories. But it’s something to practice in every interview situation – think of each opportunity as a Kung Fu Interview.
We have more interview tips elsewhere on Hammock.com. Put all these together, and over time, you will find that you have learned much, Grasshopper.