“Learn how to listen for the real question.”

Tip for the day:  Silent and listen are made up of the same letters.

Q:  Dear Connie: I have been to several interviews and am afraid that the answers I am giving are not answering the questions that the interviewer wants me to answer.  What am I doing wrong?

A:   Dear What Did You Say:  You may need to develop your ability to listen.  Your interviewer is trying to gain specific information from the questions he is asking in order to properly evaluate your skills, abilities and personality.  If you do not listen well you will miss the point of the question.

A few tips for effective listening are:

  • Give undivided attention
  • Listen carefully to what the person is really saying
  • Allow silence for reflection
  • Use restatement to clarify messages

It is important to listen to the whole question the interviewer is asking and concentrate on what the speaker is saying not on the answer you are planning to give.  If you start formulating the answer when you hear the beginning of the question, you may not hear the complete question.

Watch the interviewer’s body language.  You may be able to pick up on his expectations by the signals he is sending with his body language.  If he looks extremely serious when asking a question, he more than likely wants a thoughtful answer with no joking inserted in the answer.  If he is smiling and rares back in his chair, he is probably hoping to hear an answer that shows the lighter side of your personality.

Notice the words that are used and how many parts there are to the question.  Repeat some of these same words in your answer.  If the question has three parts to it, it is very important that you address all three parts of the question in your response.

Remember to give yourself time to think the question all the way through before answering.  This is not the time to “wing” it.  You want to sound intelligent and taking a few seconds of silence to gather your thoughts will help in this area.

Using restatement can help you focus in on the right answer.  Do not use restatement the same way that you might in a normal conversation by saying, “What I hear you saying is ….”  You use restatement by leading off your answer with part of the question.  If the question is, “Tell me how you work in a team”, you might say, “Working in a team is one of my greatest strength.”  Then proceed to explain how you are a strong team player. 

By using these tips you should become a better listener which will in turn make you a better interviewee.

Connie’s Career Corner is your source for career information.  E-mail questions for future columns to ConniesCorner@Nashville.gov .  

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