The Importance of LISTENING in the Job Interview

Buehler! Buehler! Buehler! (For all my 80’s movie fans) No matter how many times they called Ferris’s name, he would not answer because he wasn’t there.  But what if he had been there and simply not listening; this happens frequently in the interview process.

As a candidate, we all get very nervous.  We focus on making sure that we answer the interview questions in the right way.  If locked into this singular focus, any job seeker can tune out all other distractions missing vital information.

As mentioned in What Questions to Ask in an Interview, asking good questions is an important part of the interview process.  In order to ask good questions, you need to ensure that you are not asking questions that have already been answered.

The solution: Active Listening.

Active Listening is more than hearing the words that a person speaks to you.  Active Listening involves listening with an analytical mind by assessing the information, paraphrasing the content and making decisions based on the data.   Think of it as hearing with your mind, not just your ears.

quote about listening

[bctt tweet=”LISTEN & SILENT are spelled with the same letters – Think about it.” username=”ansa_careers”]


Yada, Yada, Yada (To all of the Seinfeld fans) This episode demonstrates that people really don’t listen.

We make assumptions based on our own perceptions (If you recall, George’s girlfriend uses the phrase Yada, Yada, Yada to cover up a portion of the story that she does not really want to share.)

Many people do the reciprocal thing when listening.  We tune out (or hear Yada, Yada, Yada) because we are no longer listening.

I know what you are thinking — It is stressful enough to be ready for the questions that you will be asked during the interview, now you want me to focus on listening as well.

I need to focus on how to answer the questions and tune out any distractions.  Sorry, but that behavior will diminish your interview success but I can help!  I can tell you how to actively hear while interviewing.

Here are five tips for being able to effectively listen in the interview process:

Active Listening Techniques to help you LISTEN in the Job Interview

Active Listening Techniques

Photo from here
  • Take Notes:

There is always a portion of the interview where the interviewer will describe the job.  During this portion of the interview, ask if you can take notes in your pad-folio (See How to Prepare for an Interview).

Writing down notes will help you remember the salient points.  In addition, taking notes forces you to focus on the dialogue.

  • Pay Attention to Body Language:

Every interview is a very important conversation.  Conversations are a two-way communication.  As the interviewee, you tend to do more of the talking.  It is important for you to ensure that the interviewer is paying attention.

Watch their body language.  If you are answering questions in run-on sentences or asking too many questions, you will lose your audience.  Be concise, interesting and engaging.  If you notice that you are losing your audience, adjust your style.

  • Ask for Clarification:

At times, we are asked questions which may be confusing or difficult to process.  Ask for clarification when this occurs.  Don’t wing it!  Paraphrase the question in your own words allowing the interviewer to provide additional clarification.

  • Maintain Focus:

It is easy to be distracted in the interview.  Use a technique that works for you to maintain focus.

  • Allow for Silence:

Many times, as interviewees, we assume that we should be answering interview questions in rapid fire fashion shooting out one brilliant answer after another.  This is not true.  I would encourage you to take a 10 to 30 second pause after each question to think through your response.

If you need more time, it is OK to say, “Do you mind if I take a moment to think about that question?  I want to ensure that I adequately answer the question.”

Use this time (10 to 30 seconds) to think through the question and an appropriate answer.

Use these five tips to improve your listening skills during the interview process.  Improved listening in the interview can help you land your dream job.

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