Listening: 7 tips that may make all the difference in an interview.

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His thoughts were slow. His words were few and never formed to glisten. But he was a joy to all his friends, you should have heard him LISTEN!

#1 Listening and hearing – know the difference!

One of the most effective ways to influence people is to listen to them. Sounds obvious, but how many of us really listen?

Listening = interpreting and understanding.

It means deriving meaning from what has been heard; it is a psychological, not physiological, process.

How frustrated do you feel when it is clear to you that somebody you are talking to isn’t listening? It’s happened to all of us, and such behaviours are unlikely to win friends in a critical interview…

#2 Pay attention

We often fail to listen properly when someone is talking to us because we are just too busy ‘running our own tapes’ in our head or thinking about what we are going to say next.

Make it a habit to remove the distractions from your own mind to enable you to concentrate on what the speaker is saying.

Don’t just listen to the words.

Watch the body language and try to understand how the speaker is feeling.

Give the speaker your full attention and don’t allow yourself to be distracted by the car going past, or the picture on the wall or most irritatingly the chiming mobile device letting you know about incoming email…

Be conscious of your body language and make sure it’s telling the speaker that they have your undivided attention.

#3 Paraphrase

Demonstrate that you understand what has been said by paraphrasing.

In other words, repeat back to the speaker what you’ve understood from the conversation – but by using your own words. This could be prefaced by saying something like “let me just clarify what you’re saying…” or “I’d like to make sure I’ve understood correctly, did you mean……” (There are obviously countless permutations)

By using this method you will be demonstrating to the speaker that you have listened carefully to what they have said and are keen to get a true understanding of their meaning. Doing so will give you greater credibility and make the engagement a more meaningful one.

#4 Allow the other person to finish their own sentence

It is important to have a good sense of timing if you wish to become an influential communicator – ask any stand-up comedian.

Effective communicators often use pauses to give emphasis or dramatic effect. Allow them to do so and avoid causing frustration by unnecessarily finishing someone’s sentence in a poorly timed effort to impress that will have exactly the opposite effect – even if you have correctly guessed what they were going to say.

#5 Resist talking over the other person

We’ve all met these people – If I bought a new car, they bought a better one. If I have been to an expensive restaurant, theirs was probably twice the price. And if I’ve been on holiday to Majorca, it’s likely they’ve been to Mauritius….

The ‘I can cap that brigade’ are socially boring and almost always overstay their welcome.

Far better I think to show a real interest in the speaker’s car, holiday or restaurant. On most occasions this is more likely to lead to a closer relationship and one where ideas, thoughts and experiences are more readily shared.

#6 Avoid interruption

Basic etiquette that we were all taught as children. But amazing how many times we forget it without ever intending to be rude or impolite.

How many times have you been so eager or enthusiastic to create an impression that, without thinking, you have interrupted somebody’s flow?

Inevitably, it comes across as clumsy and awkward and will almost certainly create the wrong impression.

#7 Remember that nobody is perfect

No doubt we’ve all been guilty of some or all of the bad habits listed above. But it serves no purpose to gnash our teeth or become anxious when we get it wrong.

Far better if we recognise that we have interrupted / talked over somebody / finished their sentences to have sufficient humility and apologise as soon as possible.

Recognising quickly that we may have got it wrong – and taking corrective actions – can allow a full recovery, but it may be worthwhile not allowing these to become a habit.


What do you think?

If you would like to talk more about this email me on or call me on 07525 857389



Who am I? A chap living in Nottingham, United Kingdom who perhaps has a much higher level of enthusiasm than ability leading to an interest in many things but mastery of none. A father of three no longer dependent children, or so they tell me, and husband to a one-time nurse who now works with me (or rather I work for). I attempt to take photographs and occasionally fluke half decent shots though thank goodness I no longer have to buy film. I endeavour to practice karate but with advancing years spend more time instructing them participating but actively participate in the more gentle tai chi. Professionally I have spent the last twenty years in recruitment – not always the most highly regarded ‘industry’. For my part I take great pleasure in helping companies to find the right people and a lot of satisfaction out of seeing them thrive and succeed. More recently I have spent a lot of time helping people who have, or fear they may, lose their jobs. For many putting a CV together is so difficult and then finding opportuniteis can be a major challenge. Interviews can be a different problem altogether but with a little help most people can perform a lot better than they otherwise would.

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