Monday, October 21, 2013

On Hiring and Not Listening

From the October 20, New York Times and the Corner Office column by Adam Bryant and his interview with with Val DiFebo, chief executive of Deutsch NY, the advertising agency.

How do you hire?
The first thing I need to know is, can they get the job done? I’ll listen to how they tell me the stories about what they consider their best accomplishments. I’ll ask what they like to do and don’t like to do in their jobs, because I want to understand what would make them happy in their jobs. I’ll ask them what they want to be doing in five years. I look for people who want to grow, who have a vision for something that they’re interested in implementing. I also want to hear stories of how people manage. So I’ll say, “Tell me about a confrontation you had to have with someone you worked with and how you resolved it.”
What behaviors at work do you have a particularly low tolerance for?
When someone’s not listening. They might ask a question that makes it obvious that they weren’t really listening to what was just said. That’s like nails on a chalkboard to me, because what it says to the people in the room is either, “I don’t care what you just said,” or, “I disagree but I’m not going to tell you I disagree, so I’m just going to ask you a question that will make you say it again.” When someone asks a question that proves they weren’t listening, you can see the reaction on everyone’s face.
The other thing is a little more subtle, but it’s not having the radar to look around and read people’s reactions to what’s going on in a room. There’s a real skill and an art to reading the room, and it drives me crazy when people are not present. You have to be present.

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