Posted April 21, 2009 by

Ask the Experts: Being too Talkative in an Interview

Question:

A few days ago, I interviewed with a really great firm. My experience and
skills fit what they are looking for, but during the interview I was guilty
of an interview “don’t”, being too talkative. Is there any way to salvage this
situation?

First Answer:

Probably not, because you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression.

What you can do is analyze what leads you to think you were too talkative. Once you identify exactly what occurred, you can adjust your behavior in your future interviews. If you are called back for a second interview with this employer, you can alter the employer’s perception.

  • Did you wander off point and fail to answer the question? This is a common fault, because many candidates are thinking so hard about what they want to say next, they fail to listen to the question, or remember a multi-part question. Limit your answer to the question asked, and make sure you answer it.
  • Did you give so many examples that you seemed over eager? Next time give one or two examples to illustrate the competency being asked about. Sometimes less is more, and you don’t want to seem desperate to impress the interviewer.
  • Did your interviewer repeatedly cut off your answers? This doesn’t mean your answers are absolutely too long; it may mean only that your answers are too long for this interviewer, because you have different interpersonal styles: your preference to give lots of detail, examples, and information may clash with an interviewer who wants concise summary statements and then to move on to the next question.
  • Did the interviewer remain silent after your answers, causing you to start talking again without knowing whether more information was required and if so what? This could mean that the interviewer wants more information and examples, or that you answered only part of the question. Or, it could be a stress interview technique, designed to make you uncomfortably stressed, in order to assess how you behave under stress. The right response here is to ask “Did I answer your question?” or “Do you want another example?” before volunteering more information; the interviewer will either clarify or move on the next question.
  • Did you make small talk and get no response? Again, this may mean not that you talked too much, but that you didn’t assess the interviewer’s personal style and change your behavior appropriately. Abandon talk about weather, sports, mutually known colleagues, etc. and by limiting your conversation to answering questions and asking questions about the job when invited to do so.

By taking specific steps to avoid repeating this most common mistake of talking too much in future interviews, you will gain confidence and interview more successfully.

Carol Anderson, Career Development and Placement Office, Robert J. Milano Graduate School of Management and Urban Policy at New School University in New York City

Second Answer:

Recognizing a problem is the first step toward a cure, so at the very
least, you’ve identified an area to work on in future interviews.

Perhaps you didn’t say too much after all. Remember that interviewers are
as interested in your questions and answers as they are in their own … if
you put some thought into your comments, that is.

In any case, you can use a follow-up letter to put a different spin on the
interview and leave the best possible impression with your prospective
employers. (To that end, it’s always a good idea to carry a couple of blank
thank-you cards to interviews, so you can write your notes in the lobby and
mail them right away.)

If you really did talk too much, don’t acknowledge that in your letter.
Instead, try to reinforce any good points you did make. Have you thought of
an important point you forgot to bring up during the interview? A way for
that company to increase sales or market share, for example? If so, mention
it here! Confine your comments to just one page or one full thank-you card.
Be sure to mention your strong desire to work for the company.

By reemphasizing your strong points in your follow-up letter, you’ll create
a more positive final impression and increase your chances of being hired.
For best results, write a note to everyone you met at the company — you
can get their names and titles by calling the receptionist. And be sure to
personalize your letters by covering topics you discussed with each person.

Best of luck to you!

Kevin Donlin, Guaranteed Resumes

Third Answer:

There is no way to erase the past. Making a phone call or sending a note
attempting to explain yourself would only make you seem more “talkative.”
Be sure to send a standard thank you note though – and keep it brief.

As someone who has interviewed many people over the years, believe me when I
tell you that nervous habits are not that uncommon. Most everyone has some
annoying habit they do when they arre in an interview situation. Hopefully
the potential employer will see beyond your nerves and ask for a second
interview.

However, next time you interview, try practicing a mock interview first.
Have someone you know ask you questions, and practice giving concise
answers. Make sure you do not know the questions in advance so you will
have a more realistic practice-run.

Holly Lentz, Lentz Productions

Fourth Answer:

While the damage may already have been done, you can certainly try to soften
the effect it may have. Send the interviewer(s) a short thank you note
thanking them for the opportunity to talk to him/her. “You could tell by my
nervous banter exhibited during the interview that I am VERY excited about
working with such an examplory company such as yours. I’m confident I will
be a very productive member of your team!”

After sending the note, start doing practice interviews, either by yourself
or preferably with a friend. Videotaping the mock interviews will allow you
to see your weak points and with practice you will have your interview
skills as refined as your job skills! This will also allay your nervousness
when going into an interview.

James Aure, A & A Resume

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