Examination of language learners’ strategy use within the context of language ability may contribute to realizing the role of language knowledge in strategic competence. Employing a mix-methods sequential explanatory design, this study examined whether level of listening proficiency as a part of language knowledge affects Iranian EFL learners’ cognitive and metacognitive strategy use. The objective was to explore the role of listening proficiency level in EFL learners’ strategic competence. Therefore, in the quantitative part of the study, 343 Iranian EFL learners answered a cognitive and metacognitive listening strategy questionnaire (CMLSQ) before and immediately after completing the listening section of a TOEFL test. The results of the MANOVA revealed that the high proficiency group was significantly different from the low proficiency group regarding their strategic knowledge (measured by trait cognitive and metacognitive strategies) and strategic regulation (measured by state cognitive and metacognitive strategies) as the two dimensions of strategic competence. The qualitative data also showed that high proficiency listeners adopted a wider range of strategies than did low proficiency listeners. Both the quantitative and the qualitative data analyses proposed that the high proficiency listeners dealt with the test tasks more strategically than the low proficiency ones. The results of the current study suggest that the implementation of strategic competence depends upon the availability of a certain level of linguistic competence in second language. The findings emphasize the need for a judicious approach to teaching listening, considering both listening skills and listening strategies.