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Why listening is the most important skill to hire for

Soft skills, hard skills, emotional intelligence, attitude – what top skills and qualities are employers looking for? You can teach hard skills but being able to communicate effectively with active listening is perhaps the most important of all.

So, the question is, have you been listening? Really listening?

In job interviews, we see many candidates fail to impress managers and miss out on opportunities due to poor listening. Hiring Managers regard good listening skills as crucial and use feedback to determine how well candidates listen. Answering a question incorrectly or failing to understand an interviewer’s point, may cause you to miss out on a major opportunity.

It can be a challenge to work with people, colleagues, or sometimes even a boss who just doesn’t listen. But when people in business fail to hear and understand each other, the results can be costly. Poor listening leads to assumptions and misunderstandings. This in turn can lead to mistakes, ineffective decisions and often expensive mistakes!

According to a study by Harvard Business Review, after listening to a talk, the average listener will remember only about 25% of what was said.


Improve your listening skills

Whether you are preparing for an interview, or want to improve your listening skills at work take a look at our strategies to improve your active listening – intelligently and purposefully.

  • Have the right intentions

Before you start listening, you should be interested and respect what the other person has to say, believing they have something of value to offer you. Maintain eye contact and adjust your body language and gestures accordingly.

  • Don’t interrupt!

However tempting it is to interrupt or finish someone’s sentence, make sure the speaker has finished conveying the message before you speak and give them enough time to speak freely.

  • Let go of assumptions

By removing assumptions you can listen from a neutral mindset and allow yourself to analyse ideas more carefully.

  • Read nonverbal cues

It’s not always what is being said, but the way it’s being said. Pay attention to the motives behind the words. Nonverbal cues such as body language, facial expressions or change in tone can convey a different message.

  • Provide feedback and respond appropriately

Constantly evaluate your own understanding of the message. Reflect on what has been said by paraphrasing. “What I’m hearing is…sounds like you’re saying…” If you don’t understand s certain point, clarify by asking: “what do you mean when you say…?” or “is this what you mean?”

Listening effectively requires a commitment of time and effort! Taking the time to develop and improve listening skills at work can improve your communication level, increase the quality of your relationships, and decrease the potential for misunderstandings and mishaps.


Want to read more? Check out these other helpful interview articles: 10 Smart Questions to Ask at Interview, Video Interviews,  Advice for the Hiring ManagerWhy Our Hires Stay

If you would like to engage a Recruitment Consultancy which really goes the extra mile to understand and ensure that we’re placing the right individuals into your business, please do not hesitate to get in touch for an informative discussion around your recruitment challenges.

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