The Interview

Being an active listener

By Colleen Sabatino, The Intern Coach

Did you ever hear the quote, “Nature has given men one tongue and two ears that we may hear twice as much as we speak.” by Epictetus? Employers want to hire interns who understand their organization’s goals and objectives. They want you to listen to them, understand them and commit to acting in their best interest. They want you to be focused on the company, not on yourself.  

In fact, did you know that more offers are extended when the interviewer talks more than the interviewee? Yes, that’s right. More offers are extended when you get interviewers to share more about themselves and the company, as opposed to when they spend time listening to you talk about yourself.  You might ask, “Why is that?" Asking good questions and gathering information on the interviewer and their company transmits the message that you’re interested in their needs. You are saying through your actions that you are concerned about doing a great job for the company. That creates a great first impression!

You might be wondering, “How do I get the interviewer to talk about the company rather than drill me with endless questions?” After all, that is how most of us tend to imagine a typical interview. Well, it is a good question.

Here are a few of my favorite questions to ask to get the interviewer talking:

  • I’d love to hear your opinion on what you believe are the most important things I could do to be a great intern if you chose to hire me?
  • I’ve been told that “fitting in” at the company I work for this summer is really important. I’m really interested in learning about what the company is like and how past interns have been effective at fitting in and contributing  as part of your team?
  • I want to be the intern who can help the company do more for less because I am here to contribute. If you could put me anywhere to get some things off your plate, what would you want me to do? I’d like to convince you that I can do those things.   

These questions are just a few of the possible opportunities for interviewers to engage and share perspectives. They also demonstrate good active listening skills. You can tell them you recognize how important their time is and want to use it wisely. Tell them that you’d like to know as much about their goals and needs regarding a summer intern so that you can give them the most relevant and valuable information about you.