If you have a tendency to
give too much information when asked a question in an
interview—or even before you hear one--it’s usually because of
one of several things:
• You’re nervous
You aren't prepared to talk about yourself effectively
• You don’t know
what to say in response to a question, so you share every iota of
data you can think of
• You didn’t
understand the question
• You’re worried
about something in your background and that you’ll have a lot of
explaining to do
• You’re not used
to talking about yourself
can talking too much hurt you, besides boring the interviewer to
tears or losing their interest?
poorly thought-out response can give the impression that you
don’t know how to prioritize information in terms of relevance.
So, your competency will be judged by your communication skills.
Also, communication skills are an extremely important skill in the
workplace, so you’re doing a poor job of demonstrating that
ability as well. Overall,
you blow your big chance to show someone you’re well-prepared,
mature and competent.
what to do instead to show that you know your stuff:
• Understand that
an interview is a conversation--not a one-way dialogue with
you jabbering away. It’s an opportunity for the interviewer to
get to know you through what you say and how you say it. It’s a
chance for you to get to know them by listening and
talking and creating a connection.
Listen carefully to the question you’re being asked
so you know what to share. If
you don’t understand (or couldn’t hear) what they’re asking,
ask for an explanation.
• Answer the
question--in about two minutes or less--then zip your lip.
Take the cue from the interviewer on whether they want more
• Before your
interview, think through the information an interviewer wants to
Who are you? Your answer can include relevant
information about your work experience, strengths, knowledge, how
you’ve progressed in your career and what kind of person you
Why are you here? In other words, they want to know:
Why are you looking for a job?
You can start off by stating the facts of your situation.
If, for example, there was a downsizing at your company, you might
say: “Our company is laying off due to the economy.” But avoid
editorial comments about how bad or stupid they are. Quickly move
on to explain your objective.
What can you do for me? This is where you share your
understanding of their needs and the job and show them how you can
contribute your strengths, knowledge and experience to meet those
do what I just described, you must sit down and outline on paper a
three-minute overview of your career that includes where you've
been, what your skills and qualifications are, applicable
education and why you're looking for a new job.
write about two minutes of detail on each of these items, so
that—when asked—you can answer each question succinctly.
you do this, you’ll be more likely to stay out of the danger
zone of talking too much. The interviewer will see you as a
mature, capable professional who knows who they are and connects
with people—someone they’ll want to have around every day.
© 2001 by Andrea
Kay. All Rights Reserved. Copyrighted work used with permission.
consultant Andrea Kay is the author of:
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Andrea’s articles at www.andreakay.com.