Be Like a Bat- 3 Tips for Interviewing a Potential New Hire

Gemma Smith

Bats are the kings of hearing, the best in fact of all land mammals. They listen to everything and make decisions based on it. We can learn from them by… 

1. Listening like a Bat - it is the hardest but most important interview skill. Poor listening leads to poor questioning and poor decision making.

Bats navigate their way around at night by listening attentively using echolation to work out where things are. It is these careful and detailed listening skills that lead them to make choices and decisions. Good ones. We as humans however, are very different. We use all of our senses when making decisions. For example,  in an interview scenario candidates are primarily focused on providing effective answers to interview questions. But listening is just as important as answering questions, because if you’re not paying attention, you’re not going to provide the most effective responses. Similarly if the interviewer is not listening attentively to the candidate then the questions being asked may be irrelevant and not be focussed on making a decision confidently.

2. Recognise your Bias - we all have them, don't be afraid of yours, know what it is. It's the only way to eliminate it especially when reviewing a CV

We have prejudice to many things from the obvious race, gender and income to the school and education the person had, their hobbies, sports membership or even their postcode. You don’t mean to pass judgement at the CV stage but we all do. The person has not said a word, no listening has happened at all. We are influenced and harbour these preconceived ideas from childhood, we’ve grown up with it and it’s deemed as normal. We just need to know that we have them so you do not pre-judge and you are without bias when you listen. 

3. Assumptions are deadly

We think we listen but we don’t, Bats do. Our first impression is based on sight, sound, touch (in a handshake) plus smell. We make our decision early on in the interview by taking into account all of these things. Studies always show we communicate more with our body language rather than what we actually say.  If the person is not right when they walk in we stop listening early on, sometimes we never start.  

Our lack of listening and therefore consequent poor questioning also leads to assumptions that seem like the truth. The three-month gap on the CV must mean they were unable to find a job, they’ve never done projects as the word was never mentioned, not necessarily true. Have you asked them? Have you listened properly? If a bat did this and guessed they’d never get anywhere.  

We will never be a bat.  

Fact! We will also use all of our senses and they are important but we should try to listen more to what is being said. It’s paramount to you hiring the right person. So why not be more like a bat? Listen carefully and make a better judgement based on what the person is actually saying.