How to Use Active Listening in an Interview

Posted on Friday, May 13, 2022 by The InterviewerNo comments

In dozens of interactions every day, we hear what people say. We listen and immediately get on with that we think we’ve heard. However, active listening—the ability to positively concentrate on what is being said—can give you immense power in an interview situation. It allows you to truly hear what the interviewer is asking. This helps you tailor your answer with pinpoint accuracy, making sure that your interviewer gets to hear what they are looking for, which in turn increases your chances of success.

Active listening in interviews

There are many reasons why you will say what you think the interviewer wants to hear in an interview, rather than what they are actually looking for. Nerves and a desire to use your prepared statements are just a couple.

With active listening, it is possible to pick up on the vital information that the interviewer is sharing. And conveying to the speaker that you have truly heard them, through eye contact and other body language, shows that you are enthusiastic and giving them your undivided attention.

It is possible to learn active listening for interview scenarios. Here are a few ways in which you can prepare for active listening in interviews.

  • Use active listening to banish nerves

    Active listening can actually help you calm nerves. Your focus shifts from what you are feeling to what is being said. Remind yourself that the hiring manager already sees something worthwhile in you or you wouldn’t be here! Take your time to truly listen to what they are saying and demonstrate it; you can perhaps rephrase and mirror the question back to them to ensure that you understand what they are asking before launching into your reply.
  • Use honesty

    Responding authentically is an excellent way of showing that you have truly heard the interviewer.
  • Expand your answer

    Interviewers are rarely looking for one word or very short “yes” or “no” answers. However, you may need to read between the lines to pull out what they are actually asking with seemingly closed questions. Try to ascertain what the hiring manager is really looking for in the question. Again, you can repeat it back to them reworded if you are unsure. You can then answer more comprehensively.
  • Clarify things

    With active listening, don’t be afraid to clarify what the interviewer is asking. This shows that you care about truly understanding them.
  • Remember that they are listening actively too

    In an effective interview, both parties should be practising active listening. Skilled interviewers are looking at everything you say in words and in your body language. They are assessing your responses and behaviour against their own criteria.

  • Listen to their tone of voice

    Listen beyond the words to the interviewer’s tone of voice. What do they sound enthusiastic about? What do they seem unenthusiastic about? You can then shape further discussion to appeal to what engages them more.

The ability to practice active listening in an interview is essential for interview success. Ready to secure your next interview? Register today.


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