Inverview ListeningMany people prepare for interviews by practicing what they’re going to say and what message they want to get across about themselves. That’s helpful, but even more important to interviewing well is not just what you’re saying, but what the interviewer is telling you. If you listen, they’ll tell you exactly what they’re looking for. The following are some key tips to listening during your interview:

1. Don’t assume you know what’s most important to the interviewer.

You know what they say when you assume. Ask questions, find out what the hiring manager is really looking for and frame your answers accordingly. If you make assumptions, you may talk up a part of your background that has no significance whatsoever to the interviewer.

2. Don’t assume everyone you interview with has the same agenda.

These days my clients frequently end up talking to multiple individuals within an organization. Again, you don’t want to make the assumption that they’re all looking for the same thing in their hire. You need to ascertain what’s most important to each individual with whom you speak and shape your answers to meet their needs.

3. Don’t focus on what you’re going to say next.

Be present and focused, listen to your interviewer, they could be giving you key information, for instance telling you exactly what the most important skill is for the person they’re hiring. By not focusing on what they’re saying and instead plotting your next verbal move, you could miss an opportunity to sell yourself.

4. Do ask open-ended questions.

Asking open-ended questions beginning with what, when or where can be helpful in gathering information about the position for which you’re interviewing. Not only will this help you better frame your answers according to the interviewer’s needs, it enables you to perform your own due diligence to gather information and decide whether the company or position is a good fit for you.

5. Do actively listen.

This takes concentration and patience. It means not only paying attention to the verbal communication, but also paying attention to non-verbal cues found in body language. This helps you identify how strongly your interviewer feels about what they’re saying and can give you guidance in your own response. It also goes a long way towards building rapport.

Having a compelling message about your strengths and skills is important, but if you’re not in tune with your audience, you could end up selling something they’re not buying, tune in and listen and you’ll better be able to sell yourself.