Most people believe themselves to be good listeners but in reality, most of us have a lot of room for improvement. Why? Because listening is inherently difficult. It’s hard to stay completely focused on someone else during a conversation – we simply have too many distractions in our lives today. Even expert communicators fail at listening every now and then. However, if you’re embarking on a job search, it is critical to hone your active listening skills.
First and foremost, it is important to remember that “hearing” someone and “listening” to them are not the same thing. Yes, hearing is part of the equation, but listening requires you to take an action based on the information you heard.
True listening in a job interview takes you beyond the words that the hiring manager is saying. You must pay attention to the body language of the hiring manager, to their tone and to their facial expressions. You can “listen” to their nonverbal cues to interpret their feelings or what is expected of you.
When you are listening actively, you will know when you need more information from the hiring manager in order to answer the question. Never be afraid to ask for clarifying information or say, “what I believe I hear you asking is…” This shows that you’re actively engaged in the conversation and you want to hit all of the points asked of you. It’s always better to ask and get the right information than to assume you know what the question was and offer an irrelevant or incomplete answer.
How To Practice The Art of Listening
Active listening sounds easy enough, but if you’re not used to it, it won’t come naturally to you in an interview. Spent time practicing active listening using these techniques:
- Don’t tell the person you’re practicing active listening, but choose someone you’re having a face-to-face conversation with.
- Listen to the words they say. Do those words match the tone of what they are saying?
- Don’t interrupt them.
- Ask a clarifying question or two.
- Watch for body language to see whether or not you’re connecting with the other person.
- Nod and use small words like, “right” and “of course” to encourage the person to keep talking.
- Use occasional silence strategically to keep the person talking.
- Evaluate your listening skills when the conversation is over.
Developing strong listening skills is important because it will not only improve your ability to answer interview questions thoroughly, it will also put your listening skills on display for the hiring manager, and listening is a critical soft skill in today’s workplace.
Listening Makes You Memorable
You always want to be remembered for the right reasons after a job interview. Listening makes you memorable because you can craft much more insightful and relevant answers as well as ask insightful and relevant questions of your own.
Are you a professional seeking new career opportunities?
Could you use a little help honing your interviewing skills? Contact the recruiters at TRC Professional Solutions today. We work with talent in technology, engineering, accounting, marketing and logistics and we can help you showcase all of your skills – including your listening skills – in your interviews.