Do you have a tendency ramble in your job interviews? If so, this can be a huge barrier between you and that job that you really want. Here’s how to stop rambling in interviews and stay on track.
What Your Interviewer is Probably Thinking
To figure out whether you’re a fit for the job, your interviewer needs to get through their full list of questions. If you’re rambling, you may accidentally run down the clock after answering just a couple of questions.
The company might pass on you prematurely simply because they didn’t cover everything they wanted.
Your interviewer may be too polite to cut you off. They may also let you go on just to see whether you’ll self-regulate. Even worse, by rambling, you risk being boring.
This raises a red flag for your interviewer who may wonder if you speak more than you listen or if this is how you’ll communicate once you’re on the job.
Either way, you need to keep your answers short, sweet, and specific.
Time Limit for Answering Questions
The rule of thumb for timeframe when responding to most behavioral interview questions is two minutes. Adjust that down to just one minute for a response to, “Tell me about yourself.”
If you think that sounds like a lot of time, try recording yourself answering a question in two minutes or less. You’ll see how quickly that time can fly by.
First, Plan Your Stories
The best way to stay within that timeframe and keep your answers tight is to first premeditate your best-of stories, examples, and anecdotes.
Pour over the job description, identify the key areas of expertise, and think of the examples that you can talk about within each category.
Once you’ve homed in on your stories, put them into a framework like SOAR (Situation, Opportunity, Action, and Result). Make big notes you can refer to so you don’t forget anything. Then practice–out loud–a couple of times so that you can build fluency telling your stories. This will really help you pare down your responses.
Use Tools to Keep Yourself in Check
Another technique that you can use, especially if you’re interviewing remotely, is to use a stopwatch or clock nearby next to you so that you can keep your eye on the time.
Be careful and be discrete. Keep your device at eye level and keep track so you’ll know if you are going too long. And make sure all alerts and alarms are silenced.
Make Sure You Understand the Question
Another thing that keeps people from staying on target with their response is if they don’t really understand the question in the first place.
Always ask for clarification if the question is more complex or you don’t quite understand what they’re asking. Don’t worry whether this is bothersome to your interviewer. You’re demonstrating good communication skills, and they’ll appreciate your focus.
By using these techniques, you’ll stop rambling in interviews. Your interviewer will thank you for it!