19 Ways to Show You’re Not Listening

Listening - Speaker
Written by Jonathan

It was my third attempt. I’d asked Tim the same question three times, but he hadn’t listened to the question. Instead for 6 minutes he’d talked about something that didn’t relate to the question.

Jeff, on the other hand, asked me a question and whilst I was answering it, he looked down at his list of prepared questions. He wasn’t listening to my answer.


In a recent survey conducted by Interview Expert Academy, we discovered that interviewees rate ‘having good listening skills’ as the most important element for a good interview.

It’s a shame many interviewees don’t demonstrate them.

But, what is listening? And is there a difference between listening and hearing. Aren’t we all good listeners or are we really just good ‘hearers’?

What’s the Difference?

Hearing is a simple process of the ear noticing sound. It happens subconsciously.

Listening, on the other hand, is a conscious act. It requires us to concentrate.  The brain processes what we hear into meaning from words and sentences.

Listening is an underrated skill and we spend little or no time thinking about or developing it.

Tim and Jeff were just a couple of examples of interviewees who over the years have demonstrated they weren’t listening.

19 Ways

Here are 19 ways that show you’re not listening in an interview:

  1. Not looking at the interviewer whilst they are speaking
  2. Looking distracted
  3. Looking outside the window
  4. Having closed body language e.g. arms and legs crossed
  5. Not repeating back what the interviewer has said
  6. Not asking questions to clarify what has been said
  7. Interrupting the speaker
  8. Using the same interjection e.g. yes yes, yeah yeah, mmm mmm
  9. Letting your thoughts distract you
  10. Lack of nodding as the interviewer speaks
  11. Not using facial expressions to express interest
  12. Not talking at the same energy levels as the other person
  13. Talking for long periods
  14. Showing that you’re thinking of your response whilst you should still be listening
  15. Being judgmental
  16. Looking down at your questions when you should be looking at the interviewer answering your previous question
  17. Looking at the clock or your watch
  18. Looking at your mobile phone
  19. Not smiling

Listening Benefits

There are benefits to developing your listening skills.

  • You’ll be seen as more intelligent
  • Interviewers will see you as a good conversationalist
  • You’ll save time and energy
  • It will increase your chances of success and advancing your career

Developing your Listening Skills

What are the 3 things you can do today to develop your skills:

  1. Next time you’re talking with a friend focus on what they are saying e.g. look at them, make eye contact, nod as they are talking.
  2. Avoid any distractions e.g. thinking about you’re going to say next, looking at your mobile, interrupting.
  3. Repeat back part of what they are saying or ask a question to clarify something you may not have understood.

Developing your listening skills ensures that you can answer interview questions the right way and come across more confidently.

QUESTION: What can you do to demonstrate you’re listening?


YES! I want to stand out at interviews.

Please send my exclusive Interview Cheat Sheet to the following email address (at no cost to me).

Powered by ConvertKit

About the author



  • I generally look the interviewer in the eyes, lean forward in their direction and nod as they talk. At the same time, I try to comprehend and form an opinion or determine my viewpoint.

    The article makes perfect sense where I read, “Developing your listening skills ensures that you can answer interview questions the right way and come across more confidently.”