Active listening is a fundamental skill in negotiation, particularly for recruiters who need to understand the motivations, interests, and concerns of candidates. Here are some steps and practices that recruiters can take to build and improve their active listening skills:
- Give Full Attention: When engaging with a candidate, eliminate distractions. This may involve turning off notifications, closing unnecessary computer applications, or choosing a quiet place for the conversation.
- Nonverbal Communication: Demonstrate that you are listening by nodding, maintaining eye contact, and facing the candidate with an open posture. These cues encourage the speaker to continue and show that you are engaged.
- Avoid Interrupting: Let the candidate speak without interruption. Interrupting not only disrupts their train of thought but also suggests that you value your own words over theirs.
- Reflect and Clarify: Paraphrase what the candidate has said to ensure you’ve understood them correctly. Ask clarifying questions to delve deeper into their comments.
- For example: “It sounds like what you’re saying is [summarize point]. Did I get that right?”
- Summarize: At appropriate intervals, summarize the main points of what the candidate has shared. This not only shows you’ve been listening but also helps to solidify your understanding.
- Acknowledge Feelings: Often, candidates will have emotions tied to their career decisions. Acknowledge these feelings by saying things like “That sounds like it was a challenging experience,” or “You seem really excited about this opportunity.”
- Use Encouragers: Simple verbal affirmations like “I see,” “Go on,” or “Tell me more,” can show the speaker that you’re interested and engaged.
- Practice Active Listening in Daily Conversations: The more you practice active listening in all areas of your life, the more natural it will become in a negotiation context.
- Provide Feedback: Share back what you have understood from the conversation, not just content-wise but also the concerns, needs, and emotions expressed.
- Manage Your Responses: Be mindful of the timing of your responses. Developing the patience to listen fully before speaking is key to effective active listening.
- Develop Empathy: Try to put yourself in the candidate’s shoes. This will help you better understand their perspective and respond more thoughtfully.
- Ask Open-Ended Questions: These types of questions encourage candidates to elaborate on their points and provide you with more information to listen to.
- Attend Active Listening Workshops: Participate in workshops or training sessions specifically focused on improving listening skills.
- Seek Feedback: Ask colleagues or candidates for feedback on how well you listen during conversations. This can provide insight into areas where you might need to improve.
- Reflect on Your Listening Habits: After a conversation, take some time to reflect on how well you listened. Consider what the speaker said, what you learned, and how you can improve next time.
Developing active listening skills takes time and conscious effort. Recruiters who excel at listening are often more successful at creating strong relationships with candidates and facilitating successful negotiations.
Practical examples of how recruiters can apply active listening skills
Below are some practical examples of how recruiters can apply active listening skills during different stages of the recruitment process:
During an Initial Phone Screen
Candidate: “In my last job, I felt my skills were underutilized. I’m really looking for a position where I can grow.”
Recruiter: “It sounds like having the opportunity for professional growth is very important to you. Can you tell me more about the skills you are hoping to develop?”
When Discussing Salary Expectations
Candidate: “I’m looking for a significant increase from my current salary because I’ve taken on a lot more responsibility over the past year.”
Recruiter: “It seems like recognition of your expanded responsibilities is a key factor for you. Let’s explore what a fair compensation would look like considering the responsibilities of this role.”
Handling Concerns About Company Culture
Candidate: “I’ve read some mixed reviews about the company culture, and I’m concerned about work-life balance.”
Recruiter: “I hear your concerns about work-life balance. It’s something our company takes seriously. What specific aspects of work-life balance are most important to you?”
Addressing a Candidate’s Career Goals
Candidate: “I’m hoping to advance to a managerial position within the next two years.”
Recruiter: “Advancing to management in two years is a clear goal, and I appreciate your ambition. Let’s discuss how this role could provide a pathway to that kind of progression.”
When a Candidate Shares Personal Achievements
Candidate: “I was really proud to be part of a team that won an industry award for innovation last year.”
Recruiter: “Congratulations on that achievement. It must have been exciting to contribute to such recognized success. What do you think was the key to your team’s innovative approach?”
In each of these examples, the recruiter is:
- Demonstrating attentiveness to the candidate’s words.
- Offering verbal and non-verbal feedback to show engagement.
- Encouraging the candidate to share more details.
- Acknowledging the candidate’s feelings and concerns.
- Summarizing and clarifying the candidate’s points to ensure mutual understanding.
By using active listening techniques, recruiters can build stronger relationships with candidates, uncover important information that can help tailor an offer, and ultimately, improve the chances of a successful hir.