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The Insider's Guide To Job Search

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Don't Oversell Yourself Out of a Job Offer!
by Kevin T Buckley, CPC

An interview is a two-way exchange of information, where you highlight your experience and skills and how they can serve the employer's needs.

Naturally, intelligent people want to ensure that they are clear and that the interviewer has the necessary details to make an informed hiring decision.

Danger arises when one becomes too comfortable or expansive in an interview and decides to indulge in telling anecdotal stories that derail the positive direction that the interview had.

As friendly as the interviewer may be, and as encouraging as the interviewer may appear, he or she is not looking for lengthy, involved and rambling stories from the candidate.

For those people who like to hear themselves speak and who do not place any time-limits on the answers they provide, you are talking yourself out of the job offer. There is no sugar-coating this fact. I have seen it happen to the best qualified people who think that they are holding their audience spell bound - when in fact, they are boring the interviewer and losing
interviewing points.

The key to overcoming this tendency to ramble is to practice your answers with a trusted colleague and ask that you be given a signal if you are beginning to ramble or stray off-topic.

Tell your partner to be brutally honest about this. It is in your interest to streamline your answers so you stick to the essentials and not lose your audience in a fog of words.

Does this sound harsh? Perhaps, but if you see your interviewer starting to fidget, tap their pen or pencil, shuffle papers around, yawn even, this is a clear warning that you are rambling. If you find yourself being what you think is unduly interrupted in the middle of a sentence, this is a red light that you should heed immediately. At that point, you smile and start becoming much more aware of the physical feedback you are receiving from your listener.

As a recruiter, the last thing I want to hear from a client is that a candidate oversold his or herself, or seemed to be trying too hard. You need to know when to stop talking and ask open-ended questions to gather information. If you can't or won't let the interviewer get a word in edgewise, you are reducing the likelihood of getting the job.

It is not a character failing, it is simply being unaware of how much time you are monopolizing in a job interview. When you are aware through prior interview practice, you begin to see how you can condense your presentation to make it focused, relevant and punchy.

Beware of those seemingly innocent questions like "Tell us about yourself" which can turn into a five minute monologue where you serenely meander into the past, not noticing the steam that is beginning to curl out of the interviewer's ears, or the glazed look coming into the interviewer's eyes.

Think out your answers beforehand. Speak in bullet-point rather than paragraph length sentences. It doesn't mean you have to be abrupt, just exercise some verbal self-discipline and keep you answers between 15-30 sec to a minute and a bit for more complicated explanations. Time yourself speaking for a full minute, see how many words you can comfortably fit into that time-span.

If you take the time to practice and hone your presentation and answers to expected questions, your interviewer will see you as focused and concise, two key attributes that are appreciated by senior management everywhere.

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