Friday, May 10, 2013

SMART Job Seeker Cheat Sheet: Active Listening

By Mary Salvino, Career Management Coach

This easy-to-use cheat sheet pulls together the best tips, tricks, and advice from our archives.  It has been created to provide clear recommendations on how to address the most common areas for improvement related to active listening during face-to-face interviews. 

Good communication skills require a high level of self-awareness - By understanding your personal style of communicating, you will go a long way towards creating good and lasting impressions with others:

  • Do not allow yourself to become distracted by whatever else may be going on around you. – The interviewer may be taking notes, phones ring, and interruptions happen.
  • Pay attention - . Recognize that non-verbal communication also "speaks" loudly.
    • Maintain eye contact with the interviewer – If you are being interviewed by more than one person, as would be the case if you were asked to participate in a panel interview, ensure that you make eye-contact with each member of the interviewing committee
    • Put aside distracting thoughts
    • Wait until the interview has asked the question in its entirety before you answer -  If you are finding it particularly difficult to concentrate on what someone is saying, try repeating their words mentally as words are uttered
    • "Listen" to the speaker's body language
  • Show that you are listening:
    • Nod occasionally
    • Smile and/or use other facial expressions as needed
    • Ensure that your posture is open – Do not cross your arms in front of you
  • Ask for clarification if you are unsure about the question being asked – Take the time to paraphrase the question to ensure understanding
  • Respond appropriately:
    • Be candid, open and honest when responding to the question
    • Focus on experiential content
    • Assert your opinions respectfully
    • Learn to use the gap between rate of speech and your rate of thought appropriately
        Hint #1: Take a sip of water to gather or form your thoughts before you answer the questions
        Hint #2: Try not to guess the next question
        Hint #3: The ‘best’ interviews are conversations

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Copyright © 2013, Career Matters. All Rights Reserved. Show you care and share this article with your colleagues, coworkers and friends. Permission to Reprint: This article may be reprinted, provided it appears in its entirety with the following attribution: Copyright © 2013, Career Matters. Reprinted by permission of the author, Mary Salvino. “Career Matters” is a blog authored by Mary Salvino, the Senior Consultant for SMART Career It is dedicated to those who are seeking advice on managing their career and future career opportunities. If you have any comments, questions, or suggestions, please send an e-mail to