Listen More & Talk Less: How to Avoid Obvious Mistakes

There was an interesting survey I read that, I think, came from Korn­ Ferry, the international search firm. The survey said that the primary reason why people are rejected on interviews is NOT for lack of skills competency.

The primary reason people are rejected is that they talk too much ­­almost 40%. Approximately 20% are rejected because they behave arrogantly in the interview.

So, what does this say to you about how you should behave in an interview?

  • Keep your answers to the point of the question. If possible, keep your answers to 30­45 seconds in length. For in-depth questions, you can speak for a minute. One thing you need to do when answering questions is to keep an eye out for rapport with the interviewer. If you sense you are “losing them,” ask a question that draws them back in.
  • Always remember that your voice and body language are sales tools when you interview. You want to demonstrate confidence but not arrogance when answering questions.
  • Listen carefully to what is asked of you and what may be absent from what is asked of you. If the absent item might be critical to the answer, politely ask if they would like you to expand your answer to include it.
  • If you are in a technical discipline and asked a question for which a technical answer or overview (plain­English) answer could be given, ask which they would prefer … or whether they would like a blended answer (“Would you like me to give you an overview, go into detail or blend my answer for you?”)
  • Speak to the interviewers as if they are someone with a problem and that both of you are trying to figure out if you are capable of solving it. Never “talk down” to them.
Ⓒ The Big Game Hunter, Inc., Asheville, NC 2008, 2016, 2020


Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter | Job CoachJeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter is a coach who worked as a recruiter for what seems like one hundred years. His work involves career coaching, as well as executive job search coaching, job coaching, and interview coaching. He is the host of “No BS Job Search Advice Radio,” the #1 podcast in iTunes for job search with more than 2100 episodes.

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Listen More & Talk Less: How to Avoid Obvious Mistakes

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