During employment interviews, job candidates are primarily focused on providing effective answers to interview questions. But listening is just as important as answering questions, because if you’re not paying attention, you’re not going to be able to give the best responses. Listening enables job seekers to build rapport with the interviewer because the interaction is now more give and take, instead of giving canned answers. The interview is an opportunity for both job candidates and prospective employers to check each other out.
Listen for the hidden question: During an employment interview, interviewers want to know three main things:
- CAN you do the job? This addresses your skills, knowledge, experience and accomplishments, learning potential, and the ability to handle the physical aspects of the job.
- WILL you do the job? This relates to your interest in the position, company, and industry; your work ethic; your energy level and any outside influences that might affect your willingness or availability to do the job.
- Do you FIT? This is your personal chemistry, communication skills, values, style (work and management), general interests, and appearance.
This means that any question that the interviewer asks, he or she is essentially asking one of the above questions. Keep that in mind as you listen to each question. Therefore, do not focus your answers on the obvious, and find ways to demonstrate that you are the best person for the job. And whenever possible, use the Situation, Action Taken, and Results Achieved (SAR) model to respond to interview questions.
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Listen to what the interviewer is actually saying: Less than 10 percent of any conversation is communicated through words, therefore, you have to listen with your ears, eyes, and brains to understand what is really being said. Pay attention to the tone of voice of the interviewer, the facial expression and body language because they enable you to interpret what is expected from you. Place yourself in the interviewer’s position, if you were asking the question, what answer would you expect? Active listening enables you to connect with the interviewer and hear what is really being said.
Ask for more information: When you are actively listening during an employment interview, you will know when you need additional information or need the question rephrased so that you can effectively answer the question that is being asked. In this situation, you can also reinterpret what you heard so you understand clearly. This will also demonstrate to the interviewer that you are engaged in the conversation.
Listen to get the interviewer’s attention: Interviewers remember job candidates who are memorable. Ask the interview questions from your prepared list of questions. Additionally, when you describe a situation in response to a question, engage the interviewer by asking if he or she has been in a similar situation. There are many opportunities during a job interview to engage the interviewer, and active listening will allow you to spot and capitalize on them.
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An interview can be a true conversation when job seekers engage in active listening. And the only way to be memorable is by engaging the interviewer, which can only be done if the job seeker is paying close attention. If you are prepared for the interview, active listening will take you closer to acing the job interview.