Key to Successful Interview: Listening

If you thought going to an interview was about the hiring manager asking you questions and you doing the talking, there may have been some miscommunication. Interviews are not just about the hiring managers getting to know you, but also about you getting to know the company and the position. There’s more to the job and company than what the job description or website say.

That’s why it’s incredibly important for you to pay attention and listen to the conversation. The hiring manager might give away important details about the job without completely spelling it out.

How to Listen Properly

We’re not automatically good listeners. It takes some practice and work.


Before you go into any interview, make sure you’re ready to listen. Pump yourself up and get excited to have a conversation with the hiring manager. Thinking about how important this interview is and how exciting it is that you get this opportunity will keep you attentive to pay attention and listen during the interview. It’s also very important that you eliminate distraction before you go into the interview. TURN OFF your cell phone. Even a little vibration from your device can throw off your attention.

Body Language

Make sure you look attentive in an interview. If you are sitting up, making eye contact, and nodding along with the conversation, the hiring manager will feel like you’re listening and it will help you pay more attention. Slouching and looking around the room doesn’t help you listen –  let alone get the job.

Don’t Interrupt

Whatever you do, don’t interrupt the hiring manager. Nerves and excitement might cause you to jump the gun before the hiring manager finishes asking the question, so breathe and listen to the hiring manager until they finish their thought before you begin answering the question or sparking one of your own.

Ask to Repeat

There’s no such thing as the perfect listener. Sometimes we drift off for a second or a slight noise occurred that overpowered the conversation and you might need the hiring manager to repeat the question. It’s ok to ask the hiring manager to repeat the question as long as you’re not asking multiple times during the interview.

Repeat Them

A classic way of making sure you’re listening is by repeating after the interviewer. Rephrasing questions in your answer is a common way to do this. You can also summarize a confusing point of the interview in your own words and ask if you understood that correctly. This shows you’re listening and working to better understand the business.

What to Listen For

In communication, there is always a messenger and a receiver. The messenger asks questions and speaks, while the receiver listens and interprets what the messenger is saying. In an interview, both the job seeker and the hiring manager play both parts. The hiring manager will ask questions, but will also listen to what you say and decode your message into their own impression of you.

Some important things you should listen for include:

Hidden Questions

No question is ever simple. Hiring managers are not just learning about your skills or experience, they’re also getting a sense of how you think and how you will fit in their company if you were hired. Keep in mind that for every question there’s a reason for why they are asking and you should formulate your answer carefully.

Red Flags

Remember that the hiring manager is not the only one trying to figure out if you’re the right fit; you’re determining whether the company is your right fit. Pay attention to the hiring manager’s answers and how they answer your questions.

Lack of Focus

Are you losing their attention to your answers? It’s easier to tell if you can read people’s body language, such as wandering eyes or shifting in their seat. Pay close attention because if you start to notice them losing focus, bring them back into the conversation and maybe ask them questions to keep them engaged.


Listen for questions you can ask. You may have a list of questions you brought with you, but it proves to the hiring manager that you’ve been listening if you bring up questions that pertain to the conversation.

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