CultureFree Career AdviceInterviewingJob Hunt

Candidates: If You Want to Make a Hit, You’ve Got to Make it Quick…

By December 9, 2009 No Comments

You know the drill.  When you hire for a living, you verify whether the person has the knowledge, skills and abilities to do the job the way you need it done, then you go by your instincts.  Do you want to work with the person?  Are they going to drive you crazy?  Liking the person and feeling the flow/connecting matters more than the science of interviewing would indicate.

One of the quickest ways to blow it in the interview and make hiring managers turn away from you is to talk ON AND ON.  As it turns out, the
higher your career level, the more likely you are to give a 5 minute answer to a simple question.  After all, you’ve been in charge in the past, and people have been paid to listen to you, not the other way around.

Unfortunately, if you’re in the job market right now, that’s probably working against you.  More on reprogramming executives to network and interview from the New York Times:

“Mark grew up in an age when being understated about yourself was valued,” said Mr. Redmond, a partner who has been at New Directions since its founding 23 years ago. “At 53, he has to learn to tell his story and, like a marching band, toot his own horn.”

“Like a lot of senior executives, Mark was used to going on and on,” Mr. Redmond said. “He used to give speeches to thousands of people. When there was quiet, he was the one filling in the air.”

They practiced answering questions in 45 seconds.

“Jeff told me I could just talk 40 percent of the time,” Mr. Gorham said. Mr. Redmond had him write a one-page script. “We rehearsed to get it shorter,” Mr. Redmond said.

“Before calling,” Mr. Gorham said, “I must have rehearsed five more times at my office at home.”

Less is more in interviewing.  If you’re a candidate, make sure you aren’t rambling.  In and out in under 80 seconds for each question.  If you’re working with a good interviewer, you’ll get a follow-up question.  The best interviews sound like conversations, and that is a byproduct of both the interviewer and the candidate knowing what they’re doing.

Which brings me to another interesting point to end this post.  Know any interviewers who talk 80% of the time?  I do.  Don’t be one of them.

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