The job seeker sits waiting for the interview to start. “I’m ready,” he thinks. “They can’t ask me any question that I’m not expecting. I have my notes. I have my resume. I’ve practiced in front of a mirror. I wrote out answers to more than 50 typical interview questions. I researched the company inside and out. I’ve GOT THIS.”
The interviewer walks in the door. “It’s so good to meet you Mr. Middleton. Let’s get started.”
The first question hits you like a wrecking ball. “So, Mr. Middleton, Why do you want to work here?” Palms sweating, heart pounding, you think, “Why do I want to work here? What kind of question is that? Oh My Gosh! I didn’t prepare for that one. I don’t know what to say. ‘Because, umm, Well, I really am impressed with the company and, umm the job description sounded interesting.’ You think, “Oh man, that’s a stupid answer. What kind of a response is that?! Oh man, I just blew it.” The song “Another One Bites the Dust” starts playing in your head.
Perhaps this is a scenario to which you can relate. You’re sitting in an interview and a question that you’re not anticipating comes out of nowhere. You know that you don’t exactly have the right answer formulated in your mind, but you feel like you need to answer the question quickly. You don’t want that feeling of awkward silence so you start speaking before you’ve really thought your answer through.
You quickly find yourself muttering a few Umms, followed by a “Well, uh, I usually might, umm…” and at this point you’re really wishing the interview is over.
One tactic I use with clients in interview coaching is effectively using a “dramatic pause.” If the interviewer asks a particularly difficult question, don’t jump right in and start mumbling. Pause…Breathe…repeat the question out loud…Pause. Think before you speak. If necessary, verify that you understand what the interviewer is asking.
Taking a few seconds to think through your response shows the interviewer that you want to respond with a genuine and accurate answer. Taking a deep breath (dramatic pause) will actually help you to calm your nerves and reduce the stress job seekers often experience during an interview.
Let’s replay the scenario. “So, Mr. Middleton, Why do you want to work here?” Pause. Breathe. Pause. You respond with, “I’ve been taking the opportunity to reevaluate my career and priorities over the last several months and am looking for an environment that will be stimulating, rewarding, and is in line with my strengths and personal values. I’ve done considerable research on your company, networked with people who are customers and employees, and before I even knew there was an opening, this company had made it onto my short list of places where I wanted to work. When I mentioned the opening to people who know this company and know me, they encouraged me to apply because they felt that I had what it takes to succeed and be happy here. From what I’ve experienced so far, I tend to agree.” Dramatic Pause and breathe… You think, “Oh YES! I totally rocked that.” Theme song from “Rocky” starts playing in your head.
By allowing a few seconds of silence at the end of your response, you’ve signaled to the interviewer that you are done.
Taking a breath, pausing, and allowing time for a natural pace to flow will create more of a conversational tone for the interview and help you relax a little bit. If you’re more relaxed during an interview, you know that you will be at your best. Remember; answer the interviewer’s questions thoughtfully and thoroughly. Prepare in advance, and use the dramatic pause to effectively deliver your response and make the right impression.