“You had to wait till he took a breath and then pounce.” This was one of the more memorable, dare I say cringeworthy, comments from a recent client de-brief after an interview. He is talking about a candidate who talked his way straight through an interview and out of a job.
Some candidates approach interviews as little more than vehicles to sell…. themselves. They are viewed as one-way streets of information flow that give licence to the candidate to extol their virtues in the hope that the more they say, the more likely it is that the right thing will be said. For some, this gives important insight into their personalities while for others it is a coping mechanism in a stressful situation. Whatever the cause, some candidates test the limits of normal interview protocol by talking too much.
Interviewers are left to ponder…
1 – Does this person listen….ever?
2 – Does this person have a hard time getting to the point?
3 – Does this person respect me, my time or my opinion?
4 – Is this person always like this?
To be fair, candidates often don’t know how to strike the right balance between listening and talking. Interviews are asymmetrical interactions with the interviewers holding most of the cards. Interviewers ask and candidates answer. While this may appear to be a sensible approach, it is unwise.
Candidates are gauged not only by how, and how well, they answer questions but also by the questions they pose. Candidates are not just sellers of services, they are buyers of employers and jobs. And as with all purchasing decisions, they benefit from due diligence. Whether it is true or not, candidates should comport themselves as though they have choices, and strive to ascertain whether the company and job in question are a good fit. It also bears noting that the candidate who does their homework and asks probing, intelligent questions sends important positive signals to the potential employer.
They impress and differentiate themselves. I have seen countless hiring situations where the candidate who did the most homework won…….. Oh, and one other thing …the more you ask, the more you probe, the more you listen, the less you talk. Better decisions are made and everyone wins.
About the Author
Robert Hebert is the founder and Managing Partner of StoneWood Group Inc., a leading executive search firm in Canada. Since 1981, he has helped firms across a wide range of sectors address their senior recruiting, assessment and leadership development requirements.