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Common Listening Skills Mistakes Made In Job Interviews
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Common Listening Skills Mistakes Made In Job Interviews

If someone was to ask you how good your listening skills are, I wonder what you would say. Many people if asked to describe themselves would say that they were a ‘good listener’ and yet there is often ample evidence that they are not as good as they think they are.

A TV programme I often watch is Judge Judy a reality court show from the states which films small claim cases with Judge Judith Sheindlin . The Judge listens to cases from people from all different walks of lives and she is well known for her blunt outspoken comments. One of her frequent remarks to both plaintiffs and defendants is ‘You haven’t got your listening ears on’ as they interrupt her, talk over her, don’t listen to her, so intent they often are to tell their side of the story.

As you can imagine the Judge is not impressed when they don't listen or appear to understand what she's said even when she's explained something in different ways two or three times.

I have often cringed as people make complete fools of themselves and wonder how they can be so foolish at the same time as wondering how I would fare in a similar situation. As a communications specialist I hope I would do rather better. I know that to listen effectively is a high level skill which many people are completely unaware of. The listening mistakes that I see in Judge Judy are exactly the same ones that I have witnessed many times when interviewing candidates for jobs at all levels.

When applying for jobs applicants often say in their personal statements that they are good listeners or have excellent listening skills and yet once in an interview they aren't nearly as good as they think they are and make some very common but avoidable mistakes.

One of the reasons for the mistakes is that many candidates do not appreciate the different listening skills that we should use in different contexts and it is this lack of awareness that lets them down.

Listed below are some of the most common listening mistakes that people make in interviews, Don’t fall into these traps.

  • Telling interviewers your ‘life story’ – Some people just do not stop talking in interviews so intent are they to demonstrate their brilliance and achievement that they practically tell their life stories. If you do this you’re not listening.
  • Not listening to the question – Some candidates have decided that there’s certain information that they want to get over to the interviewer so they lose their focus and just don’t listen to the question and then give an inadequate answer.
  • Answering a question when you haven’t heard it clearly – Never be too embarrassed if you haven’t heard a question to ask someone to repeat it. It’s much better than giving the wrong answer.
  • Answering half the question – Quite often candidates only listen to half the question and start forming the answer in their head and don’t hear the other half. Make sure you have hear the entire question before you answer it.
  • Misinterpreting remarks or questions – If you’re nervous or you fear that the interview is not going well it’s very easy to lose your concentration. If you do this, it’s quite possible that you might mishear and misinterpret a remark or question. I’ve seen candidates feel that they’re being criticised when they’re not and reacting aggressively. Obviously that is completely inappropriate.
  • Interrupting – Let the interviewer finish what they’re saying to you. Interrupting is impolite and you certainly won’t be demonstrating good listening skills.
  • Failing to pick up pace and tone of the interviewer - If you don’t listen you can fail to pick up both positive and negative cues from the interviewer from their pace and tone and this can lead you into giving incorrect responses.

Listening skills are a key part of the communication skills that you will be expected to demonstrate in a job interview. It’s important that you appreciate the different types of listening skills there are that you might use and you avoid making foolish mistakes that could lose your credibility as a candidate.

Street Talk

Listening skills are important for all aspects of life. When I listen to people, I look at their body language and listen for the tones in their voices. Sometimes those things tell me more than what they say.

  about 1 decade ago

Hi Sarah Yes I agree with you. Body language and tone give away a great deal. I don't think some people realise just how much. Beverley

  about 1 decade ago
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