A question we are asked is “How do I improve my Jobs to be Done (JTBD) interviewing skills?”
Whilst the answer to this is and will always be to practice… What are you supposed to be practicing?
Practice without purpose is a waste of time.
Most people ask for a list of questions to guide them or to help identify ways to improve their questions they already have access to. Or, perhaps there’s something about technique. They ask “how do I make my questions sharper so that people answer them more concisely?”
This is the wrong way to start.
To improve your interviewing you need to improve your listening
If you want to improve your interviewing skills you have to improve your listening skills.
What we mean by taking the time to understand what the person is saying and not jumping to conclusions. This means no interrupting, letting people talk it through, and then only asking questions to clarify.
When most people conduct interviews is as soon as they have asked the question, they think it’s time to ask the next question. All of a sudden it’s not like a conversation which is the aim of a JTBD interview. (Hint, check out our JTBD interview tips post).
A real conversation is one where you’re not sitting there thinking of the next thing to say.
You’re meant to be digesting what they say and then use follow ups to get the clarity you need without making people feel on the spot. This is a difficult thing. Need to brush up on your listening skills? Check out the Listening episode of our podcast.
Okay, so practice is the first way to improve your interviewing skills, what else is there?
Ask questions in a way to gain clarity.
Sometimes we ask questions in a certain style or with a perceived knowledge base that actually turns people off. That’s because they are worried they are going to give you the wrong answer.
Another tip we recommend is to remove jargon. If someone says something in jargon, you have to immediately stop and unpack what that actually means. People say a lot of things in between words, and we have to get better at understanding those things.
People say a lot of things in between words, and we have to get better at understanding those things.
The example I always use is this: if I am interviewing someone and they said “well, you know it was an inconvenience. I had to run home to grab my iPhone, if there was something that could have just allowed me to do it on my computer that would have been much easier.”
We’re talking to someone at this point who is actually going to go back to their house. But if I try to understand what they are saying and put the conversation together, I might have learned that they were actually traveling. So “home” in this instance isn’t a home – it’s a hotel.
Actually, there could be three or four different definitions of “home”. We need to make sure we know which one they’re talking about to understand the context of their situation.
So when we say “practice”, practice means asking questions in a way that is not pushing the interviewee to give me a specific answer but instead, allows them to fill the blanks.
We also always interview in pairs. If someone makes a mis-step, says the wrong thing and it takes someone off guard, the other person can come in and cushion it. Or, if I say a word that’s jargon, they can unpack it and push me to say what I really meant. They can come back into the conversation and get it back on the right foot.
Stop assuming, start being more conversational and less dictatorial.
It’s not about “the right script”.
A lot of the time we have people using standard questions that’s structured in a way you know it becomes a routine.
When running these interviews we want to get to a place where the interviewee wants to go (with a little gentle pushing and prodding).
That’s why we use a systematic approach to Jobs interviews, and it’s this approach that makes it a normal conversation.
The best thing to practice when it comes to Jobs interviews is to stop thinking about jobs or your interview practice and start thinking about using it in your normal conversations as practice.
You know when you’ve done a good job when they’re laughing or showing emotion with you. If they say, “boy, that’s a really good question i haven’t thought about that” you’re on the right track.