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How to use active listening skills in your interview

  • 6th Mar'23

Have you ever found yourself nodding and providing half-hearted responses during a conversation, even though your mind has wandered elsewhere? Do you approach discussions with pre-planned answers, assuming what the other person will say? If so, it's crucial for you to grasp the concept of active listening and why it's particularly vital during interviews.

I often get asked, “How can I improve my listening skills for an interview?” In this article, I have shared some tips and strategies for using active listening skills during an interview that can help to improve your chances of success.


How do you use active listening skills during an interview?

Active listening is an interpersonal skill that involves giving undivided attention to another person. In the context of interviews, active listening is particularly beneficial as it helps to comprehend questions thoroughly and demonstrates engagement and genuine interest. Here are a few techniques that can be beneficial during an interview if practiced mindfully.


  1. Smile and maintain appropriate eye contact

One way to actively listen to the interviewer’s questions is by maintaining eye contact and smiling. This will demonstrate that you are engaged and interested in the position. On the other hand, if you were to avoid eye contact and not smile, the speaker may feel ignored or undervalued, which can lead to a breakdown in communication and potentially lead to negative consequences during an interview.

Eye contact doesn't imply that you keep staring at the interviewer. Be natural; you will naturally make appropriate eye contact if you pay complete attention to the conversation.


  1. Rephrase the questions 

Paraphrase the questions asked in your own words clearly and logically. This will show the interviewer that you are fully engaged in the present moment rather than waiting to give pre-planned answers. For example, if the interviewer asks, "Can you tell me about a time when you had to work under a tight deadline?" Instead of simply answering the question, active listening involves repeating the question to the interviewer in your own words, such as "So, you would like me to share an example of a time when I had to complete a task within a short timeframe?"

By rephrasing the question, you demonstrate to the interviewer that you are paying attention and you understand what they are asking. It also allows you to clarify any ambiguity in the question, which can help you provide a more relevant and targeted response.


  1. Maintain an attentive body posture

Your posture shows how attentive you are during an interview. Do not slouch or lean back. Sit with your back straight and inclined slightly forward to show your attentiveness.

Active listening would involve sitting up straight, facing the interviewer directly, and keeping your arms and legs uncrossed when the interviewer is speaking. This posture conveys that you are interested in what the interviewer is saying and that you are taking the conversation seriously.

On the other hand, if you slouch, lean back in your chair, or cross your arms, you may give the impression that you are disinterested or defensive. This can negatively impact the interviewer's perception of you and may decrease your chances of being offered the job.


  1. Pay attention to non-verbal cues

Active listening also involves noticing other person’s body language and facial expressions. If you observe, you might see if the interviewer is pleased or disappointed with your answer, and you can quickly change the course of your answer accordingly. 

For example, if the interviewer seems hesitant or unsure about a topic, you can use your body language to convey confidence and put them at ease. Paying attention to nonverbal cues during an interview allows you to understand the interviewer's thoughts, feelings, and preferences, enabling you to adjust your communication style, and build rapport with the interviewer. In addition, you can also pick up on company culture and environment to analyze if that organization is the right fit for you.


  1. Ask thoughtful questions

As an active listener, you can ask open-ended questions if you do not understand something. But do not interrupt and cross-question each point as it may annoy the interviewer. For example, you might ask the interviewer about their experience working for the company, their expectations for the position, or the company’s growth plans. 

Note that you must ask relevant questions that demonstrate your interest and curiosity rather than simply asking questions for the sake of asking them.


  1. Take notes

Taking notes during an interview can serve two purposes. First, it helps you to remember important details, such as the job requirements, company culture, or specific projects or responsibilities. Second, you are processing the information in real-time and actively engaging with it rather than simply listening passively.

It is crucial to take notes in a non-distracting or disruptive manner. Use a small notebook or electronic device to take notes quietly. You should also balance taking notes with maintaining appropriate eye contact and active listening to the interviewer.


  1. Limit distractions

Distractions can come in many forms, including noise, technology, and personal habits. For example, if you are conducting a virtual interview, you should find a quiet and distraction-free location and turn off any notifications or alerts on your electronic devices. During an in-person interview, you should dress appropriately, arrive on time, and ensure you have all the necessary materials. You should also avoid fidgeting, or engaging in other distracting behaviors during the interview.

Limiting distractions allows you to actively listen to what the interviewer is saying, respond thoughtfully to their questions, and also demonstrate professionalism and respect for the interviewer's time and attention. 


  1. Provide appropriate responses

Preparing and planning the answers is an integral part of interview preparation. But it's also vital to listen carefully to the interviewer's questions and provide thoughtful responses that directly address their concerns. You should provide concrete examples of your experience and skills, and avoid giving generic or overly vague responses.

For example, if the interviewer asks about your experience working with a particular software program, you can provide a specific example of a project you completed using that program. 

Active listening is a skill that requires practice. Look for opportunities to practice with friends, family, or colleagues. It will not only help you during interviews but will also improve your relationships.



In conclusion, active listening skills are crucial during an interview as they help to demonstrate that you are fully invested in the conversation. To effectively use active listening skills, you should pay attention to the interviewer's expressions, tone, and body language while avoiding distractions. Provide verbal and nonverbal feedback.

By incorporating these techniques, you can effectively use active listening skills during your interview, increasing your chances of success and making a positive impression on the interviewer.


Shellye is committed to helping people from diverse backgrounds to achieve their aspirations in careers and life. The content published above was made in collaboration with our members.

Shellye Archambeau is determined to help you with all possible strategies to climb the ladder of success. She values your feedback. Do mention them in the comment section below.

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