Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Interview Silence: Although Uncomfortable, Work It to Your Advantage

Most job seekers are unsettled by silence in an interview. They tend to break the silence by providing details that may not be relevant to the question or by carrying on about nothing. Either way, rambling to fill a silence can have negative results and even exclude you from being seriously considered for the job. As uncomfortable and intimidating as silence can be during an interview, your best line of defense is to prepare for and expect it.

It takes self-discipline to keep from talking for the mere sake of filling the silence during an interview. Don’t let silence unnerve you. By remaining calm and patiently waiting for the interviewer to comment on your response or pose another question, you are demonstrating self-confidence. If a minute or two passes and the interviewer remains silent, you might want to ask the interviewer if he/she would like you to elaborate on a specific point.

Interviewers often use silence as a technique in exploring how a candidate reacts under pressure. Some prefer silence for thinking about what was just said. Others are even providing a quiet moment out of consideration so you have ample time to organize your thoughts, prepare for the next question, and compose yourself.

Since the main goal of the interviewer is to gather detailed information to assess whether the interviewee is potentially the right person for the job, it can be ineffective for the interviewer to dominate the discussion. The overall interview experience is far more successful when it is a mutually respectful, exploratory, and interesting dialogue.

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