Interview Preparation – What Everyone Wants to Tell You but Wont

mouth taped shut

The interview is set.  You have researched the company.  You have researched possible interview questions.  You have enlisted a friend to help you prepare for your interview – after all you want to ace this.


You have prepared answers for each question and you reply to each one that your friend asks in a confident manner.  You ask your friend how you are doing.


They normally respond with something like, “Great – you are going to do great!”


But that is not what they want to say.


What they want to say is, “You’re talking too much.”


But they won’t because they don’t want to hurt your feelings at the least or freak you out at the most.


It is a natural response to over-talk.  You want to sound confident and convince them that you are the best candidate.  The problem comes with the convincing part.  In doing so, we normally have a tendency to talk more than we need.


Which actually has a negative effect.


You leave no room for them to ask questions, you may bore them or you may wind up talking yourself down a rabbit hole from which you or them have no idea of how to get back from.


So, let me help by giving a few tips:


  1. Relax.  Breathe.  You’ve got this.
  2. Have a general idea of what you want to say but do not memorize it word for word.  It allows for a more natural response.
  3. If you are unclear of their question or the question could be taken one of two ways – ASK!  Ask for clarification: “Do you mean that in terms of A or in terms of B?”  The interviewer may not even realize that the question could be confusing.  This shows you are listening and on top of it.
  4. When you answer – answer their question without going into several examples or beating the horse to death (my apologies to horses for that analogy).  Let them decide if they want an example, let them ask if they need clarification on something.  Jumping in and giving them everything all at one time could make you seem too over-anxious, a know it all or an unlikable “talker”.
  5. Guess what, you might just say something wrong or mess up.  Don’t sweat it – remember number one.  Relax.  Breathe.  If you do say something wrong or if you start going down that rabbit hole – STOP.  Take a breath and smile.  Simply tell them something to the effect of “I’m sorry, I don’t know how I got here, but let me get back to your question.”  Answer the question then stop.
  6. Answer the question then hush.  This is the scary part.  The silence.  That is when the freak out part of our brain says, “Oh no, they aren’t saying anything – I better fill in the silence with more!”  Please don’t.  Let them take time to think about it.  If the silence seems a bit long and you are second guessing your answer simply ask them if you answered their question as they asked.  Interviewing is a two-way street.
  7. Stay measured.  Remember to keep breathing even throughout the interview, take a silent breath before answering each question, speak in a slower, more measured manner than you normally do.
  8. If you are a hand talker (I am) here is a good trick – press your thumbnail into the bad of your middle finger and press.  Every time you want to flail those hands it will stop you.  This does work and has kept my hands calm many a times.
  9. Have questions ready.  I don’t care if they answered everything you had on your list, ask questions at the end.  You should be listening during the interview and quite possibly there is something you need clarified. Perhaps you could ask about the people who held the position before you – what made them successful, were the recruited from within, how long have they been here – just find something to ask to show you are engaged.
  10. End with them knowing you want the job.  You would be surprised how many interviewers after a great interview say something like, “I think it went well, but I don’t know if they are still interested .”  Don’t let that be you.  This is when you can recap the highlights of the interview, tell them how excited you are about the opportunity and are now even more convinced that this is the right opportunity for you and the organization.


Relax, if you were called in for the interview they have seen something in you.  Now they want to know more and get a feel for if you will fit into the organization.  This isn’t a crap shoot – you beat out many other candidates with your qualifications so be a little confident!


Just don’t talk too much and you will be fine!



Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW


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