Developing Your Career

Preparing for an Interview: Listen Up!

By Jean Baur on May 17, 2013

During an interview, anxiety and nervousness can interfere with your ability to listen. If you’re not focused on really “hearing” the interviewer, you may miss important verbal and non-verbal cues, making all the difference in whether you land a job or not. When actively listening, you’re much more in tune with the interviewer as you make a conscious effort to hear and understand him. By doing so you demonstrate that you value the interviewer’s time and opinion, often helping you to quickly build trust and rapport. With a deeper understanding of the interviewer’s needs and concerns, you’re more likely to provide a response that will hit the mark.

Five tips to improve your active listening skills:

  1. Sustain eye contact, and check that your posture and non-verbal cues are all saying: I’m excited to be here!
  2. We often interrupt without realizing it. Watch this tendency and take a breath before speaking.
  3. Periodically summarize what you hear to ensure thorough understanding and open up opportunities for clarification.
  4. Show interest by commenting and asking follow-up questions at appropriate points in the conversation, but wait for natural pauses.
  5. Don’t worry about making a decision about a potential offer during an interview. That comes later. Make active listening your number one goal.

No one comes home from work complaining that they experienced too much quality listening during the day. An interview gives you the chance to be a great listener, and from that base demonstrate how you can fill the company’s needs.

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