Bad Interviews: When the Interviewer Talks Too Much

Interviews can be stressful to the average applicant - after all, career advancement and better opportunities hinge on their success. In most cases, you’ve done your homework, written your resume and practiced answering those tough questions that might come up. What do you do when faced with an interviewer who dominates the conversation and won’t let you talk about the bullet points on your resume?

The Breeds of Boss

Since you don’t know what kind of interviewer you’re going to end up with, being prepared for any situation or personality type is essential. There are a few general profiles to look for in your future manager, which will not only help you through the interview but also help you decide if you care to work for this person after.

  1. The Aloof Administrator. This type of interviewer/manager spends most of the time stoically staring you down, offering very little to the conversation or atmosphere. This can either give you the chance to dazzle or be seriously off-putting to the interview and the position. This person will spend less than 10% of the time talking, and it’s important to be informative without rambling.
  2. The Chummy Chief. This person will share the floor with you 50/50. While it’s ideal that you get to spend slightly more time talking about yourself and your qualifications, this type of interview is one of the best you can hope for. It gives you adequate time to hit the main points on your resume while also building some rapport with your future superior.
  3. The Examining Executive. This is the best type of interview you can hope for, with your interviewer spending about twenty to thirty percent of the time talking and asking questions. You’ll have plenty of time to answer questions, show your interest with questions of your own and communicate all the ways you’re the right person for the job.
  4. The Dominating Director. On the opposite end of the spectrum, this person will spend 90% of the time talking, offering you very little time or chance to explain what you might bring to the position. It’s hard to know what to do - interrupt and make sure you get time to talk about yourself, or simply nod and follow along to show you’re a team player?

Manage the Manager

While it can be a relief on one hand to avoid the tough questions, it also means you’re missing what could be your only chance to wow a potential boss. The good news is you can use the situation as an opportunity to show your future manager how you manage in the workplace. Using tact and a little foresight to redirect the talk in your direction can send the message that you respect their position but are focused and competent.

  1. Before the interview, give yourself an agenda - what are the most important points you want this person to know? If you have time to go into lengthy anecdotes that detail your prior job performance, that’s great. If not, having a series of concise and clear points that highlight why you’re the right fit for the job before you walk into the interview can help you keep it on track if your interviewer gets derailed.
  2. Instead of waiting for an interviewer to ask you questions, use polite agreement points as opportunities to add your bullet points. For instance, if you’re listening to a long speech about goals or numbers the company hopes to hit, you could simply nod your head to indicate you’re following along. However, you could also use the pause to insert one of your bullet points that align, such as, “That’s great because one of my biggest accomplishments at my last job was growing my department’s revenue by 15%.”
  3. Over-answer questions when they do come up. Instead of simply answering the simple question, give additional information that shines a light on your background. If you’re asked about the numbers you hit at your last job, share the answer and add the strengths and strategies you used to hit those figures.
  4. Prioritize follow-up. When the interview is over if you still have the information you believe needs to be said, ask for a few additional minutes to finish up or request permission to email further details you think might be of interest to the interviewer. While you may not have been able to get a word in during the interview, an email allows you to talk uninterrupted and keeps you fresh in an interviewer’s mind.

Hopefully, your interviewer will ask questions that allow you to share your strengths while adding informative details about the company and position. If you do find yourself stuck in what feels more like a lecture than an interview, use it as a chance to learn what you can, grab moments to insert your pre-planned bullet points and make sure to follow-up with additional particulars to highlight anything that gets missed.


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