“Music is what feelings sound like” – Georgia Cates, Beauty from Pain
“I shut my eyes in order to see.” – Paul Gauguin
Something happens when I close my eyes to listen to music. Sometimes the world falls away and I hear the essential core of what the musician is trying to say. I understand most people feel this way. You don’t have to be a musician to appreciate wonderful music.
What is going on that makes this strong impression outside of your basic senses? We are “seeing” differently. We are seeing meaning instead of the words or musical notes.
Let’s think about being outside at night. It is dark. If you close your eyes you can hear the insects. Maybe you can hear small animals wandering through your yard. You can hear the dog barking a few blocks away. Perhaps there is a siren a few miles away or a train whistle in the distance. If you have your eyes wide open and concentrate directly you might actually miss some of the detail. Closing your eyes opens other senses to what is really going on.
There is a real scientific principle at work here. The McGurk Effect shows that we automatically and subconsciously integrate visual information into our own perceptions.
A job interview is a choreographic exchange between two people, almost like music. Two people are talking and listening.
If you close your eyes (figuratively) or look away while talking to someone else you can almost understand what the person is really trying to say.
Do the words match the music you are hearing from your other senses? What is going on behind the scenes with the person you are talking to? Are the responses genuine or do you sense a strain or incredulity about the words you are hearing?
Try it next time during an interview. At some point look away for a few seconds. Does what you are hearing (the words) match the sense of what the speaker is trying to say? Do the words and music tell you the same thing?
If not, then ask questions to understand what the speaker is actually saying.
For hiring managers, this is a way to get insight into whether the person you are talking to is speaking genuinely. This is not a lie detector test but a way to understand whether you are hearing the real story or if you need to probe more.
For candidates, this is a way to determine if the person you are talking to is accurately describing the work situation or if you need to probe a little more.