Interviewing – Helpful Tips from a Professional Panel

woman interviewed by two

Yesterday morning I had the pleasure of participating on a panel discussion on interviewing sponsored by Dress for Success Indianapolis.


I was very fortunate to be surrounded by such knowledgeable and open professionals.  There were several great points that came out during the presentation and one particularly stood out.


Here is the interesting thing, the panel was comprised of a diverse group all coming from a standpoint of hiring managers, interviewers; basically gate keepers or the ones actually performing the interview.


They were very informative and professional in representing themselves and their companies.


And then there was me.  I came from a different perspective.  I’m the coach working with the people trying to get to these professionals and impress them.  Basically, I’m in the trenches with you so I could take a little different approach in answering the questions.  I could be more blunt.  Big surprise, I know, for anyone that knows me.


This came to light when I offered one of the most important reminders about interviewing.


I stated that when answering an interviewer’s question be direct, specific and when done stop talking.  I said that a pause after the answer was not necessarily a bad thing so let the interviewer think about your answer.  They will then decide where to go from there, but during that dead time – shut up.  Yes, I actually used the phrase “shut up”.  I apologize to my mother and grandmother, of course my dad was probably shaking his head at me too.


Sometimes bluntness is an effective tool.  This is taught to me by my father do he probably wasn’t that upset, or surprised.


Anyway, what struck me as funny is when I said “shut up”  I could see the rest of the panel shake their heads in agreement and almost see a visible sigh of relief like a wave go down the line.


There were a couple that followed up in full agreement.


You see, they really do think about your answers.  They really do need that pause to think.


And they really don’t like it when you freak out and think you answered wrong and then try to fill in the dead space with verbal diarrhea.


Be prepared in your answers and potential questions.  Many are behavioral based so I highly recommend you do research on the STAR method: Situation, Task, Action and Result.  Use this as a format in showing your strengths, opportunities, lessons learned and value added.


Be confident in your answers.  Once you respond allow the interviewer to think about what you said.


They could be thinking “Hey, I never thought of that” or “This person might be good at even more” or they could be contemplating asking more about that situation or taking the next question in a new direction based on your answer.


Just because they pause does not mean you answered wrong.  Settle down cupcake, relax.


If they want clarification, they will ask.  In the meantime, while they are thinking just take a slow breath in for a three count and let it out for a three count – silently – and wait.


Oh, and one final tidbit – be nice.  They all stated that they wanted to talk to people who really wanted that job, not just any job, and were engaging with them.


Before you leave, be sure to tell them that after speaking to them you are more interested in the job now than ever.  They need to know you still want the job – it is up to you to tell them, don’t assume they know.


They have enough on their plates and do not need to take on assumptions, too.



Lisa K. McDonald, CPRW


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