How to be a Good Listener

If your idea of listening is to wait for your chance to jump in with what you want to say, then you’re like most people—listening losers. You need to become a listening winner at interviews by learning how to be a good listener. Active listening is the first aid of interviewing.

It’s important to be a good listener at interviews because you cannot help someone until you hear what her needs are. Professional people like doctors and lawyers listen intently to what you present as your problem. Only then can they offer suggestions to help you. So whenever you interview or network, think of yourself as a professional who must listen first in order to help.

You’ll become an instant listening winner, thereby winning more interviews as a result, by applying three techniques for active listening:

First, limit the amount of words you speak. You were born with two ears and only one mouth. That means you’re expected to do twice as much listening than talking in all situations—especially during interviews. And when communicating with your spouse, lover, or partner.

Second, be present. You’ll be in the moment when you focus with all your mentality—heart and soul, eyes and ears— to what’s being said. In this way you become a listening sponge that absorbs and sops it all up.

Whether you respond or not isn’t important. But being present through active listening is crucial. Listening is a tremendous gift you give to speakers who are used to being listened to with maybe half of a listener’s attention.

The third tip for how to listen is not to stare at the speaker. It’s okay to make eye contact while meeting and greeting. But if you keep eyeballing someone, you’ll freak him out. So listen with a neutral or pleasant expression as you would during any normal social conversation.

It’s especially important to know how to be a good listener during telephone interviews and conversations. That’s because without visual input, you need to catch the drift of meanings and innuendo by the use of listening skills alone. You can learn more listening tips in the chapter, “How to use the telephone to get meetings and interviews,” in my book Your One-Minute Job Finding Coach.

Copyright ©2016 by Ransom (Randy) Place

About the Author

RANDY PLACE IS A JOB-FINDING and executive coach, writer on career topics, broadcaster, and host of For twenty-three years, he helped thousands of employees who had been let go from JPMorgan Chase find jobs. And he coached executives at CBS Television, Pitney Bowes, and major outplacement firms in New York on job-finding techniques, communications skills, and selling strategies. An accomplished seminar leader and speaker, Randy has designed and presented workshops on interviewing, telephoning techniques, job-search writing, and sales training nationwide. Randy's groundbreaking nationally syndicated radio series, Your Career Service, has been heard on over two hundred radio stations across the United States. And his articles on career topics have appeared in the Wall Street Journal's National Business Employment Weekly. A former broadcast journalist in New York, he has also been a commercial spokesperson for an array of national and regional advertisers. In addition, Randy was a sales executive at NBC Radio and the New York City sales manager for syndication at Wolper Productions. He holds a Bachelor's in Sociology and Broadcasting from Syracuse University, and a Master's in Journalism from New York University.