Listen closely and speak clearly to get the job you are going after 

The ability to give and receive clear information during a job interview is critical to its success. Effective communication will help determine if you are among the pending candidates for the job.

Successful salespeople learn to ask leading questions of customers to help sell their products and services. But they will learn little if they aren’t prepared to listen — actively listen. And conducting a job search is very much like conducting a sales campaign.

You are the product, and the sale — the job you want — will come much more easily if you listen to the employer’s needs. As Calvin Coolidge said, “No one ever listened themselves out of a job!” You must listen to the employer’s needs before you can present yourself as a solution to those needs.

Say what you mean in a mature, businesslike way, leaving nothing to be “read between the lines.” Be brief, be concise, but to the point. Since many hiring authorities lack this skill, you must be prepared to ask questions that are necessary and intelligently presented.

If you are asked why you left your last job, don’t say, “Well, you know ... the economy ... !” Instead, you might say, “Due to the economy, several positions were eliminated, including mine.” Say what happened, clearly and briefly, and not negatively.

Listen to each question and respond to that question, not what you might be thinking. My friend walked into the room the other day and I asked, “Is it raining yet?” The answer was, “Man, the temperature must have dropped 10 degrees and the clouds are black!” Listen to the question, and then answer that question, not what you may be thinking.

It may seem picky, but interviewers want to hear answers to specific questions, not editorial observations that may or may not be relevant. Actively listen, and then accurately respond.

Do what others fail to do!

Marvin Walberg is a job search coach in Birmingham, Ala. Contact him at Distributed by Scripps Howard News Service,

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