Are You Really Listening During Your Interview?

Lee Dobbins

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We all know that answering questions about yourself is the main purpose of a job interview but did you know that listening is just as important as talking? In order to properly answer the questions asked, you need to know what the interviewer is fishing for in an answer and the way to do that is to actively listen to what he or she is saying.

When you practice active listening you can give complete answers that will impress the speaker. Say for example, you are on an interview and are asked if you have any problems multitasking. You might simply answer “no”. But avoiding one word answers is key to successful interviewing.

Now if you were really listening to what the interviewer wanted you might answer by saying “Depending on my level of commitment to other projects I do like to work on more than one at a time. This can save the company money as well as make for an interesting day”.

In a job interview, you need to set yourself apart from the crowd. That’s why you need to be specific in your answers - without rambling on and on. Another thing that will really set you apart is to talk in a language that company executives understand - money language. That means to try to tie in how hiring you will be good for the companies bottom line.

In order to answer these types of interview questions, you need to develop what is called “active listening skills”. Just like everyday “speaking” is not exactly the same as public speaking; “listening” is not the exactly same as active listening. Active listening is comprised of two parts: analysis and the response to what is being said.

An active listener shows he is interested by maintaining eye contact as well as good posture. He leans slighting in towards to speaker as if to hang on every word. During the interview, the listener nods, smiles and takes notes. Be ware, however, that a daydreamer or pseudolistener, can adopt these behaviors. So a listener’s physical response does not necessarily mean good listening skills are at work.

Nonverbal communication, more than just the nod or smile, is important. Gestures, appearance, timing, voice responses, facial expressions, spatial distance – all affect how the speaker (or interview) interprets the listener. So a person preparing for a job or work project interview should consider the cultural climate and norms of society of the interviewer. In short, perceived active listening based on nonverbal signals can vary from culture to culture.

Successful active listeners paraphrase (restate the question using their own words) and then come up with a summary of the main issues. A silent listener is not a good active listener. To be a good listener you must ask intelligent questions. Repeating what the speaker has said but using different words and asking “is this what you mean?” will let the speaker know you understand the message he is trying to get across.

Lee Dobbins write on many topics. Please visit her site on Moving where you can find more about successful interviewing .

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