Active listening skills are a subtle but effective way to perform better on job interviews. Half of all communication is listening but few of us get any training on doing it well. Fortunately, listening well is relatively simple, and will become automatic once you practice the skills.
Here are some techniques that will help you acquire more knowledge and make a better impression on your prospective employer.
How to Use Active Listening for Your Job Interview
- Recognize your limitations. Many studies confirm that we only take in half of what we hear and we forget half of that by the next day. Becoming more attentive often takes some deliberate effort.
- Relax your mind. Most people feel anxious about applying for a new job. Take time to quiet your mind and reduce distracting thoughts. Meditate, get a massage, or listen to instrumental music.
- Stay alert. Prevent fatigue from sabotaging your interview. Get a good night’s sleep and squeeze in some aerobic exercise beforehand. Sit up straight and dress in layers. Being chilly makes concentration more difficult.
- Show your enthusiasm. Successful people often enjoy talking about their work, especially when they have an appreciative audience. Make eye contact and lean toward your interviewer. Let your positive feelings shine through when you describe your past accomplishments and how they relate to the position you’re seeking.
- Position yourself as a good fit. Use the information your interviewer provides to home in on the type of candidate they’re after. Explain how your background and skills enable you to contribute and become a valued team member.
- Take notes. People listen much faster than they speak. Take advantage of that gap to take notes and collect your thoughts. Jot down keywords and main themes rather than recording every word.
- Keep an open mind. It pays to be flexible. Remain neutral to avoid rejecting a new viewpoint or job opportunity before you have a chance to consider it from all angles.
- Put yourself in your interviewer’s shoes. Your interviewer may feel uncomfortable too. Empathize with their responsibility to find the right person for the job.
Restate key points. Summarize and paraphrase the most important messages. This will help reinforce their thoughts in your mind and show your interviewer that you are on the same page.