Not long ago I was at a job interview where I was asked a lot of tough interview questions. After I gave my answer, the interviewer would sit there, quiet, not saying a word. I got nervous so I continued to elaborate on my answer, and I made some stupid mistakes that I know I didn’t make in my original answer. What should I have done?
Skilled interviewers use silence as a tactic to see if they can throw you off your game. Many applicants plan their interview answers, but very few plan what to do if the answer is “not enough” by the interviewer’s standards. So the interviewer uses it to their advantage by remaining silent as though they are waiting for you to continue, causing you to be nervous and say things you wouldn’t normally say.
Rather than elaborate unprompted, you should simply ask the interviewer “Is there anything else you would like me to add or a specific point you would like me to address?” If there is, the interviewer will tell you, and you can think about how to provide a good answer. If there isn’t, the interviewer will move on to the next question.
It’s annoying, but it is effective. Most likely the interviewer will only do it for one or two questions. If they do it for every question, then they may simply be giving you a chance to elaborate yourself before you move on, or they are jerks. Some interviewers are jerks. It’s life.
The only advice is to not elaborate with an unplanned response without prompting, especially if you are elaborating because you are nervous. Rambling answers are bad answers. Keep calm and ask the interviewer if they have anything else and you should be fine.
Take Away Interview Tips
- Don’t ramble.
- Don’t elaborate unless prompted.
- Ask the interviewer calmly and confidently if there is anything else they would like to know about the answer.