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Important Active Listening Skills to Ace Interviews

Author: Eightfold Institute

Published on 26 October, 2020

Active listening is not the same as hearing.  

Most of us cannot differentiate between hearing and active listening. Though the terms are used interchangeably, they are poles apart. Active listening requires the listener to fully concentrate on what is being said, rather than passive 'hearing'. It is a key criterion that employers look for, especially during an interview. When job hunting, it is common for you to focus on providing efficient answers while attending an interview. For that, it is essential to actively listen to the questions  

WHAT IS active listening?

Active listening is the process of listening attentively to the speaker, to comprehend the message being conveyed, respond appropriately and remember the message that is being communicated during a conversation. Active listening requires you to listen with all senses and involves showing verbal and non-verbal signs of listening.


Active listening during an interview is crucial to keep the communication open and straightforward. It showcases your interpersonal skills and concentration levels to your potential employer. It enables the interviewer to build rapport with you as the conversation progresses. More than a trick to ace your interview, active listening is a highly desired soft skill in the workplace. Working in teams, reporting your performance and resolving conflict – all depend on your ability to actively listen to respond appropriately.  

For example: If you do not understand clearly what it is your boss wants you to focus on, it is unlikely that you’ll achieve your targets. Likewise, if you do not actively listen to colleague grievances, it is unlikely that you would be able to resolve conflicts at the workplace.

3 women in a discussion

Active listening skills are usually clubbed under communication skills


Focus: There is no rocket science. The key is to focus on not just the words that are coming out of someone’s mouth, but also the meaning behind the message. Understanding the meaning behind the message is essential to respond appropriately.

Do not interrupt: Always wait for your turn to speak. Let the person/interviewer finish speaking before you ask a question or respond. If you interrupt, chances are that you might miss key details that the other person says.

Eliminate distractions: The average human attention span is shorter than a goldfish. When giving a video interview from home, chances of getting distracted are higher. To overcome this, ensure you’re in a distraction free zone - away from your mobile, TV and any other things that will divert your focus. Staying attentive is half the battle in the active listening battle.

Reciprocate: The interviewer needs to understand that you are listening to him/her. Reciprocal body gestures such as nodding, smiling or leaning forward while the interviewer is speaking shows non-verbal engagement in the conversation.

4 people in a meeting room

Active listening skills are usually clubbed under communication skills

Paraphrase: You can respond to the interviewer by summarizing or paraphrasing whatever was said during the interview. It involves taking the key points and putting them in your own words and explaining in a logical manner. This shows the interviewer that you have been engaged in the conversation. It also gives you the opportunity to clarify whether you’ve understood everything the other person said.  

Ask questions: Active listening is also about asking relevant questions and clearing your doubts. This shows that you are attentive and do not just blindly nod to everything the other person says.  

Practice before the big day: Mock interviews with friends, family or qualified career practitioner can go a long way in helping you perfect the art of interviewing. Ask them for feedback, improve on it and practise until you are confident.  

Simple, right?  

Active listening is not only useful to ace interviews and secure a job. It will also help you perform well at the workplace where you will be dealing with a host of people, problems and conflicts.  

Brush up your active listening skills before your next interview, and you might see a change.