Why Do Job Interviewers Talk So Much?

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It happens every day.  You are the one being interviewed but the interviewer is too busy talking to ask you any questions.  How will they ever get to know you if the interviewer is too busy talking?  Can you say, “I don’t care if you were a high school football star”?   Or, “It’s too bad your kids are sick but I want to tell you about me”.  How will you ever get to tell your great story without interrupting the interviewer and sounding rude?  What if your time is up and you hardly had a chance to talk?  Then, when they finally stop talking the interviewer asks, “Do you have any questions?”

What you want to say at this point is, “No! I don’t have any questions.  What about you?  Do you have any questions?  You haven’t asked me any yet!”

No one wants to endure a stress interview but we all want the chance to describe how great we can be and how we will help the organization.   But, as the candidate, how do you turn the monologue into a dialogue?  How do you turn the subject back on yourself?  Here are some tips from HR managers and men and women right out of college:

  • Give it time but don’t let the time get away.  No need to panic in the first five minutes.  The interviewer may be breaking the ice.  Glance at the clock or take a peek at the interviewer’s watch.  If you are more than half way in and you still haven’t had time to talk, it is time for an interruption.
  • Steer the conversation toward you. If the interviewer is blabbing on about their own college or work experience, that’s an opening for you to butt in with a segue into your own background.
  • Don’t start asking questions too early. That time will come.  If you start asking questions right up front you may not get the podium back.  Let the interviewer ask the questions.
  • No tangents. Don’t encourage conversations that will go on and on and not be relevant to the job opening.  The interviewer may be talking about the World Cup and you may be a fan but don’t throw fuel on that fire.  Be cordial and engaged but then go silent so the interviewer can get down to business.

In talking to those same HR managers and young men and women right out of college, there are several hypotheses about why this phenomenon exists.  Some reasons are not pleasant.

  • The interviewer flunked interview school. Any one who attends a seminar on interview skills is warned about speaking too much.  Among many other reasons, the candidate is just not interested.  For some, the temptation of a captive audience is just too much.
  • There is really no job open. Why bother with learning about the candidate if the interviewer knows a job opening does not exist?  A better question is, “Why have the interview at all?”  It is probably a waste of time.
  • Sometimes the interviewer is more nervous than the candidate.  When that is the case, the candidate could be in for a long story of the interviewers career trajectory.

Sometimes it seems that the interviewer did all the talking but that may not be true.  Avoid the trap when the interviewer says something like, “Let’s not have an interview.  Let’s just chat.”  Avoid that trap and be aware that the “chat” is still an interview and you are still a candidate.

When the interviewer drones on and on and time is slipping away, it is OK to interrupt.  Politely say, “Thanks for all of that information, can I now tell you about how my experience relates to this job?  I think you will like it.”

Then be aware of your own voice.  The only thing worse than an interviewer who talks too much is the candidate who talks so much that the job slips away.

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