Although the prospect of a new job can be exciting, the
process of actually landing a new position can be fraught with a great deal of
anxiety. In a 2005 survey, respondents described job interviews as producing
more stress than going on a blind date, being pulled over by police, or taking
a final exam without studying.
If you think about it, the stakes are higher in job
interviews than they are in almost any other type of social interaction. Let’s
face it: few other conversations can have such a sizable impact on your
livelihood, your professional development, and ultimately, your personal
When you look at it this way, it’s easy to understand why so
many people dread interviews.
When all that’s standing between you and your dream job is
an interview, it’s not uncommon to feel overwhelmed by the pressure. Sometimes, it’s easy to get so caught up in
what you should be saying and doing
in a job interview that you tune out what’s actually going on.
Does this sound like you? If so, don’t despair: job search
experts recommend practicing a technique called “active listening” to overcome
this tendency and ace your next job interview. Let’s take a look at the basic
concept of active listening and some strategies for applying it effectively
during your job hunt.
There’s hearing, there’s listening, and then there’s active listening. This practice was
developed by communication experts to facilitate effective communication
between individuals and groups. Originally, the concept was devised as a way to
broach a compromise in conflict situations. However, over time, active
listening began to gain ground in HR circles as a technique for helping both interviewers
and interviewees alike achieve better communication in the often-stressful
environment of the hiring interview.
According to job search expert Judith Verity, author of Succeeding at Interviews, the goal of
active listening is to forge and maintain an effective channel of communication
between two or more people. To achieve this, it’s vital to ignore all
distractions and focus deeply on what the other speaker is saying -- both
through words and through body language. Another important element of active
listening is analyzing and then paraphrasing what the other speaker has said in
order to ensure mutual understanding.
Because job interviews are more progressive and fast-paced
than leisurely social interactions, it’s often necessary to apply a more
streamlined version of active listening principles. These basic tips will allow
you to reap the benefits of active listening without dragging down the pace of
Complement these strategies with what communication experts
refer to as the “active listening posture” -- shoulders held straight, head and
body inclined slightly toward the other speaker, and hands either engaged in
taking notes or folded on the lap or the table. Before you know it, you may be
“listening” to a job offer!