Executives rise to the top of an organization for a variety of reasons that include: thinking outside the box, vision, business savvy, strategies, and the intelligence to see the big picture and drill it down to deliverables. These are attributes that are expected of high-level leaders and work well for an executive no matter what corporate environment they may find themselves in.
When in the midst of a career change, being the smartest person in the room is not always easy. What can occur is that the intimidation factor comes into play, and the person (be it a recruiter or interviewer) can become defensive and shut you out. Here are some examples:
- They won’t listen to what you are saying
- They don’t understand why you think you are right on a topic or issue
- They want you to slow down so they can better grasp what you are saying (frustrating for both parties)
- You start to resent having to redirect your conversation so others can keep up
And truly, you are just trying to be informative and professional and don’t quite understand. What can result from these types of reactions is that the other person gets annoyed. So, how can you circumvent this type of situation?
Sharpen your listening skills. Give others the opportunity to talk and hear what they are saying. The payoff is that you can create an ally by showing more interest and this will ultimately help you win their favor. During job search, it is important for recruiters to experience and believe that you have excellent listening skills.
Understand the thought processes of others. Our brains take in and process information in four basic ways: verbal, visual, kinesthetic and auditory-digital. The verbal style processes best when they are being told the information so they can hear it. A visual type likes to read or see the information to grasp it easily. A kinesthetic style processes information slower than most other styles, but that doesn’t mean they are less intelligent. They pick up a thought and feel it as a sensation. The auditory-digital person needs information to be orderly, point one-two-three explanation of something. And don’t leave out point two, this will throw them off. Recruiters, hiring managers, and interviewers can be any one of these styles so your challenge is to observe and listen carefully to pick up the style of the person you are speaking with in order to match their style, and have a more cohesive conversation.
Effectively communicate. It can be quite frustrating to someone whose brain thinks faster than anyone else in the room. It can be just as hard for you to slow down, as it is for others to try to keep up with you. The intention should be to keep the conversation going, and keep all parties engaged. You don’t want to create roadblocks with a snobbish attitude, rather, make an effort to make sure your communications are professional, yet understandable on multiple levels. After all, the purpose is to get a chance to be considered for the job.
Leading a corporate team and looking for a new job have many similarities when it comes to skills and talents of an effective executive. In job search, an executive wants to win over the recruiter or interviewer. Rate your interviewing intelligence. You can be the smartest person in the room or you can be effective. The choice is yours.