Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Walking the fine line between talking too much and talking too little in an interview.

Do you like to talk a lot? Or are you more quiet and reserved? Do you recognize which type you are and consciously modify your normal talking behavior in an interview situation … or not?

“The most important thing in communication is to hear what is not being said.” Peter Drucker

People flunk interviews every day because they fail to strike the right balance between these two behaviors. Usually the clues to how you are coming across to the interviewer are right there for you to recognize if you would only open your eyes and ears in face-to-face interviews and your ears in telephone interviews. Body language and verbal actions are clues that need to be observed to be successful in interviews.

Interviewers have a limited amount of time to conduct the interview. And they usually have a given amount of questions they want to ask. If you prevent them from doing what they need to do, you lose!

During the interview what do you hear and what do you observe?

Is the interviewer trying to interrupt you when you are talking? Is the interviewer’s facial expression becoming negative? Is the interviewer beginning to fidget? Or is the interviewer coming right out and asking you to move on? You are talking too much if this is happening. You may reach a point where the interviewer starts shutting down the conversation and is trying to get rid of you. It’s all over if that happens.

If the interviewer has to ask you “then what”, or if the interviewer simply stares at you when you are done answering, or if the interviewer says something like “let me ask the question a different way”, you haven’t provided enough or the right feedback. The interviewer may be feeling like it’s difficult to extract information from you. That’s not good either.

Fortunately there are simple ways for you to manage your behavior to prevent the interviewer’s behavior from turning away from you:
  • Let the interviewer control the interview until it’s time for you to ask questions.
  • Listen carefully to the interviewer's questions and respond directly to them, quickly, concisely and crisply.
  • Do not start into a long dissertation of the background to your answer. My favorite example of this is, if I ask you what time it is don't start your answer by telling me how to build a watch!

Here is a good way to measure how well you are doing with your responses: Stop frequently if you are prone to talking too much and ask if your response answers the question or if you need to provide more information. That is equally important for people who tend not to talk a lot to ask the same question. 

Then take the interviewer’s response to that question to heart and start modifying your behavior immediately.

Get more help on this and other search tactics by emailing me at or by visiting 

And leave a comment with your point of view.