Dear LolaCat -
I get talkative when I get nervous and I think this might be tripping me up in interviews. How do I know if I’m talking too much?
Dear Chatty -
Humans tend to babble on about the most uninteresting things. There are only 3 words I really care to hear someone say: ‘dinner’, ‘scratch’ and ‘cuddle’. The rest are just not worth me opening my eyes for. Luckily for everyone, I just dish out advice and don't conduct many interviews.
Your interviewer wants to hear what you have to say but doesn't want to have to wade through a bunch of fluff to understand your answers. It’s natural to be nervous about an interview but if you know you have a tendency to prattle on when nervous, here are some ways to cut the chat.
• Breathe, breathe, breathe. Consciously breathing not only relaxes you but keeps you from talking too much.
• Preparing well for the interview will help quell those nerves so you will worry less and not be tempted to babble.
• Let the interviewer interview you. Listen attentively to what he or she is saying and take an appropriate amount of time to come up with your reply.
• You don’t want to use up all of your time in the interview talking about unnecessary information. If you see a glazed look come over the interviewers face and you are still talking, wrap up what you are saying right away. By giving brief answers that are to the point you allow the person interviewing you to either ask to expand on your answer, or move on to the next question.
• If the interviewer pauses between questions, don’t feel as though you need to fill in the blanks. Take the time to breathe - physically and mentally. Wait for them to make the next move.
• Answering a “yes” or “no” question should not take 5 minutes. E.g.- Have you used the Calendar reminders in MS Outlook for meetings? Your answer should be either – Yes, when I was at ____ I used them for ____ Or No, at ____we were using the _____ calendar program. Your answer should not include how you should have used an Outlook reminder last weekend but then you forgot to set it and you were 3 hours late for your ex’s party, which is why they broke up with you. If you’ve forgotten the question by the time you finish answering it you’re in trouble. Catch yourself and be on point for the rest of the interview.
• If they ask for an example or situation, give them one and then stop. Don’t try and cover every scenario you can think of in the hopes that one of them is the answer you think they might want to hear. The only answer they will hear is that you talk too much!
Go in to the interview prepared, with the bullet points of your strengths and success stories. Review them quickly before you go in, and you’ll be confident to know when to talk and when to be quiet. After your next amazingly successful interview, you can be free to call your friends and babble all you want.
Do you have a job seeking or office etiquette question for Lola*Cat? Send her an email: DearLolaCat@alanjblair.com