Describe a time when you had to listen to someone. How did you show that person you were listening?
When your interviewer asks you this question, you are obviously being assessed on your ability as a listener. Listening is very necessary for proper communication among and between individuals. In a workplace where you have to communicate with work colleagues every day, you need to demonstrate good listening ability for a common understanding among each other. Answer this question with clarity of details as you were to describe a certain situation. Pick a fairly simple experience to share and prepare yourself for follow-up questions after your sharing.
To avoid unnecessary delay in responding, think of the most recent situation and as mentioned in the earlier paragraph, choose a simple situation to share. This is not difficult to do since you engage in a conversation with people every single day. You probably might want to think of the time when your boss talked to you about something important.
You can also talk about the time when your office colleague approached you and vented out his or her frustrations towards work. Think of the last person who ran to you for a good talk on just about anything. Use that situation to answer the question. Do not worry about the kind of information that the person shared to you whether it is good or bad since it does not matter much. The interviewer does not assess it in the first place. It is your listening ability that is being gauged here.
This is the meat of your answer to this question. Make it a point to minimize the details of your description such as summarizing the things that the person talked to you about. Your answer should revolve around the 'how' when you listened to that person. This should answer the follow-up question "How did you show that person you were listening?" Since it asks for the manner of listening, be specifically descriptive of your answer.
The verbal and nonverbal cues of listening are very essential. Say, you gave a nod or gave the person a pat on the back or you might have given short-spoken feedback such as "ok" and "alright" to show that you were listening. Do not miss out in describing your facial expressions and body gestures or body language. Include these details in your answer.
You can wrap up your answer by telling your interviewer how the person appreciated your efforts to be all ears to him or her. You can also close it by stressing on the value of listening and how it strengthens relationships with people. Leave an impression that you understand the importance of good listening not just as a useful skill in the workplace but also a vital element that promotes good relations with all the people you deal with whether in a personal or professional setting.