The Value of the Interview Pause

We are all nervous when we go to interviews.  It never changes. It does not matter how senior you are or how many interivews you have done, you will still have sweaty palms and sweaty armpits.

We also, in that situation, tend to speak just a little too quickly.  We get caught up answering in a gush of words that were probably not the best choice.  Our answers are either too short or too long.  When you can no longer remember the question, you have gone on too long.

One of the ways to combat this is to take a pause before you start to answer a question.  Not a long pause, just a short breath in while you compose your thoughts.  It will feel like you are taking an hour but only to you.  The interviewer is processing pretty quickly too.  A breath might be a welcome pause.

This will allow to quickly flip through the possible answers and examples in your head to select the best one and then lay it out clearly.

Once you do this the first time and see how it feels, it will be easier to continue it through the interview process.

You can even practice at home before you get to the interview.  When someone asks where the measuring spoons are, you can take a small pause and then answer.  What’s neat about this approach, is that sometimes the person answers their own question while you are pausing.  This is especially helpful with teenagers.

If you have not been in an interview situation for a while, it is worth the time to practice with someone you know.  Pick a few examples of your successes, resilience, empathy and anything else that might be relevant and then sit down with a friend and try out the stories.  Make sure you insert the pause before you begin each story.  It will be worth your time.  You will feel way more confident going to meet the next hiring manager and that’s a big part of success.

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