Seriously, Shut the %*!& up !
My friend and business associate, David Gonzalez, and I worked on a placement together and we had a few candidates blow the interview because they talked way too much during the interview. All of these candidates are excellent private service professionals. However, no one would even consider hiring them because they would drive the principal to drink. Here is a little blog from David to help you prepare for your next interview.
Sorry for the offensive headline, but it’s far less offensive than job candidates who don’t know how to stop talking during interviews.
I learned long ago from an old boss that some people can “talk themselves into one end of a deal, and then right out the other.” Loosely translated, this means that the most important point of any sales, negotiation, or presentation is knowing when to shut the *%!# up. It’s that simple, but so hard to do. I’m certainly guilty of this as well, because I love information and love to share it even more, but just ask my wife and kids… sometimes I just don’t know when to shut up! I can’t emphasize enough how vital this concept is while interviewing for a job or communicating important ideas, and so few know how.
Recently we’ve been hearing from candidates who seem unaware that employment agents and potential employers are not therapists. Perhaps the isolation of Covid-19 is depriving people of meaningful communication, but I can assure you that a job interview is not the place to relieve pent up quarantine conversations. At the informal stage a bit of small talk is genuine and human, but when it gets into the job and employment details, it is time to get focused.
Active listening and clear, concise answers are the most rare talents, and easily set apart the best candidates from their peers. We want to know more about you but we definitely don’t want to know everything! Listen, listen, listen, and then give back direct answers and examples based on exactly what was asked. Be professional and confident in your abilities, but don’t be arrogant. If we’re talking to you there is already a solid level of interest based on your written presentation and employment history, so you don’t have to re-sell any of the positives that are not in question. Again, listen and follow the interviewer’s lead so you can discuss what they believe is relevant to the next steps in qualifying you. When you finish your answer, just stop talking! And NEVER go on a self-promoting rant about how great you are, your own glamorous lifestyle, your IQ, or anything that can be interpreted as bragging or self-promotion. This isn’t about you, it is about how you can be of service and value to the employer. Full stop.
And it’s not just you. Some clients are horrible at this too! I’ve actually told several candidates before their interviews to try not to speak at all. Let the client ramble as much as they want, and they’ll think it was one of the best interviews they’ve ever had! Trust me, it works. Unfortunately, those clients don’t have the slightest idea how to conduct proper interviews, and they are lucky if they have a decent agency helping them hire. The point is, if you don’t have a feel for who is talking and how much during your professional interactions, you are the one blowing it. Know when to shut your own mouth to make the conversation work.
Pay attention to this concept in your next conversation. You might be the best candidate for the job but your awkward conversations have people pulling out their hair on the other end of the phone. I’ve had interview calls where I stopped talking completely and timed how long it took until the other person asked if I was still on the line. Their resume got a big X. Please don’t let this happen to you. I would suggest looking up articles on active listening and interview skills, and anything on effective communication. Learn and prepare before any important professional call and you’ll be well ahead of the pack. Good luck!
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