Thursday, January 6, 2011

Actively Listening: Your Key to Interview Success

Hearing what someone is saying is very different than truly listening with focused attention. As a job seeker, this difference can impact how well you do in interviews. Were you able to concentrate and process the information shared in the interview? How well can you recall and understand the information after the interview? Job seekers and interviewers share equal responsibility for facilitating effective two-way communication, and one important factor is active listening.

Barriers to Active Listening

Several things can get in the way of active listening. One, in particular, is common in interview situations—anxiety. During an interview, anxiety may cause your mind to race with worrisome thoughts that tug at your attention. Did I answer the last question correctly? Does the interviewer think I sound overly confident? And, if you have a tendency to be a talker, you may not be allowing ample time to really listen to what the interviewer is asking before jumping in with your response.

Listening with Focus

Before you step into your next interview, be mindful that focused listening takes a conscious effort. From the moment the interview starts, tune in immediately. Take a deep breath, make eye contact, establish good posture, and let your body language communicate that the interviewer has your full attention. If you realize your attention is starting to stray, do your best to focus on what is being said. Approach the interview with an open mind, and don’t spend time judging the interviewer or your own performance. Let the interviewer finish talking, and then take a few seconds to pause and process before responding.

Active listening fosters learning and demonstrates goodwill and respect for the interviewer and the interviewer’s time. It also enables you to respond with relevant answers and insightful comments or questions. Effective listening is a key piece in getting you to the next interview step.

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