Do you ever take the time to really think about the importance of collecting your thoughts before you speak? How many times have you found yourself in an interview ready to jump through the seat once the hiring manager finishes their question? Or chomping at the bit to finish someone else’s thought when speaking with a co-worker, client, or even a spouse?
As rap legends, Run DMC, once told us…PAUSE.
We spend hours and hours preparing for an upcoming interview and running every possible question which could be asked through our mind (at least you should be but that’s for another post!) and how we will best answer. How many of you have prepared, the big day comes, our nerves are running, and the interviewer asks you a question which was not on your list and you find yourself scrambling. I’m here to tell you that how you handle the next few seconds can overcome what can become a rambling stream of incoherence into a thoughtful response.
1. Remember you are not running the 100M dash: Speed is not the name of the game as it relates to an interview. Impulsive answers are not always the best answers…even though your gut instinct might be telling you to answer immediately. Catch your breath, give a few seconds to consider the question, and put together a thorough response you could be proud of.
2. If you take a pause…don’t let your body pause either: Just as important your answer could be during an in-person interview your body language can help amplify your answer or detract from it. If you need to take a few seconds to think through your answer, make sure your body doesn’t pause as well. Are you sitting upright and looking the interviewer in the eyes? (Good) Are your arms folded across your chest or staring into space aimlessly? (Bad)
3. Repetition can be your friend. Repeat. Repetition can be your friend: For some of you the thought of there being an extended moment of silence during your interview can cause you anxiety. I’m here to tell you that by repeating the question or asking the interviewer to repeat the question is perfectly normal and sometimes is appreciated. As someone who interviews people constantly, I don’t mind if someone asks me to repeat the question because it ensures they are truly figuring out the best way to answer the question.
Moments of silence can be an ally in any interview. Start learning ways to incorporate them into your practice interviews and you will become more confident in any future job opportunities your considering.