Dec 20203

Are You Prepared for Unusual Interviewing Situations?

Even with the best preparation, you still may encounter situations that go beyond normal. Maybe a candidate just can’t think of anything to say, or talks too much, or even has misrepresented his or her qualifications.

What If the Candidate Won’t Talk?

There are people who become so nervous during an interview that they literally can’t think of what to say. So, they sit and say nothing. What do you do?

Remember that part of your goal during the interview process is to help the organization maintain or even enhance its image as a good place to work. This means exercising tact and professionalism and being careful not to appear impatient or to make light of the situation. Instead, treat the candidate with regard and as much empathy as you can. You can say:

Roger, that’s okay. Take your time thinking about what you want to say. When you’re ready, just go ahead and tell me about your last job. Would you like a cup of coffee?

If, for whatever reason, the candidate just isn’t able to continue, ask if the person would like to reschedule the interview for another mutually convenient time.

What If the Candidate Won’t Stop Talking?

A more common problem is the candidate who won’t stop talking. You ask a question and the person answers, and answers, and answers.

You need to help these talkers maintain focus with their responses. You could wait for the person to pause, but sometimes you’ll simply need to interrupt. You can say:

Sara, that’s an interesting story, but we need to stay focused on how your experience and skills apply to the job needs here at the ABC Organization. Let me rephrase my question so you can give me the kind of specific information I’m interested in.

If the person continues to ramble, be courteous but firm. And remember that what you say—and how you say it—reflects on your organization’s image as a great place to work.

As a friend once said, “Some people are reinforced by the sound of their own voice.” Nothing you can say may get this kind of person to refrain from rambling. So, when you find yourself in this kind of situation, make a note of it and bring the interview to a close.

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