The world and beyond – Surviving in the economic jungle

Advice, tips and tricks on how to engage with the UK jobs market and commercial environment, from a female executive's perspective

Definitive Guide to Job Hunting – The importance of listening during the itnerview

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If only I had a Pound for the amount of times customers say: “He is a lovely chap, but his listening skills are not great!” when I ask for interview feedback.

Listening is a hugely important communication skill, and one that we don’t often practice enough. So, if you really want to do well in an interview, it’s important to focus on the questions and to make sure that you take time to give appropriate and well-formulated answers.

What should you try to avoid at all costs?

Assuming you know the questions before you hear it

Not all interviews ate the same. Not all interviewers expect the same answers. It’s really risky to think that, because you might have heard a similar question in the past, you know how to respond! You believe you already know what the interviewer is going to say. When this happens, it is easy to hear only part of the question, as you mentally anticipate the rest of the question or statement. The problem is that often you are incorrect. You THINK you heard what the prospect said, when you really heard what was in your own mind.

If you LISTEN to the full question, with making any assumptions, you are likely to not only understand the words, but also the context. This will help you give a far more relevant and appropriate answer. It helps keep you on track and focussed, instead of veering off at a tangent.

Formulating your response before the question has been posed

It is human nature to begin to formulate the response to the question while the interviewer is still speaking. You believe you know exactly what they are going to say, and you begin rehearsing in your mind what you will say back. Being over-anxious and keen to respond immediately, you might even tend to cut off the interviewer in mid-sentence. This is not only rude, but also a really dangerous strategy as you might get the wrong end of the stick by not hearing the person out!

Wait until the question has been stated, and then count to three before you open your mouth. This not only helps you listen and digest exactly what the prospect said. Do not be too quick to “have an answer for everything.” Take time and show the interviewer that you are thinking. It will keep you on track, you are likely to provide a far more consolidated response and the interviewer will feel that you took cognisance of the questions.

Lack of eye contact
Don’t allow your eyes to wander – Listening entails more than just your ears. You have to listen with your eyes and emotions.

Maintain constant eye contact and engage with everything the interviewer is saying. Take in and note  body language, facial expression and movements. You need to SEE and FEEL what is being said, in addition to hearing it.

Most final hiring decision are taken on the basis of the interviewers “gut feel”

Do they like you or not? Do they think you fit in with their team and ethics? This is beyond what is stated in your CV. Its everything to do with who you are, in it really might be the defining factor that wins the job!


Written by Cathy Richardson

January 26, 2012 at 12:15 pm

Posted in Recruitment

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