“In sales, one of the most important skills is to know when you need to be quiet. You hear that after you deliver your pitch, “the first one to speak, loses”. Same applies for when you close the sale. You need to know when to stop talking. If you feel or think that you have given a good, elaborate but concise answer to the questions you got, close your mouth and wait. The worst thing you can do, is continue talking. You’ll ramble, and you can even lose the sale.”
I believe the same applies to the field of recruitment. If you’re a candidate, you’re selling yourself. And to a large extent, the same rules apply. That means, the same risks exist. Myself, I have turned 35 a few times already. I come from the period before social media and internet as it exists today. Back in the day, I didn’t have to worry about people finding out what I did over the weekend, how I feel about certain things and my opinions. Today, that is completely different. For many people, their life is as much online as it is offline. The difficulty is, how do you manage and balance the two. Almost three quarters of hiring managers do a quick online search before hiring a candidate.
Think – what is out there you don’t want your future employer to see? Today, we talk about oversharing information, and how it can negatively affect your chances of landing your dream job.
1. Be Authentic but Deliberate
On this blog, we talk a lot about the importance of being authentic. Being true to yourself makes it easier for the hiring team to assess whether you are a fit. Make no mistake, it’s not just about getting the job, it’s about staying in it, too. If the assessment from the interview is that the role is not a good fit based on your background, experience or personality, that is actually good news. It may prevent you from getting the role now, but it may save heartache and frustration down the line.
Being authentic has the added virtue of being true, when it comes to your answers, behaviors and attitude. But you have to stay in control as well. Even though you may be someone who shares a lot of information and is comfortable with that, it may be the case that the person across the table isn’t. So, while you stay true to your personality, opinions and answers, you have to keep the control in what you should share, instead of what you want to share.
What to do instead:
It doesn’t mean you can’t be authentic. It doesn’t mean that you say ‘no’ where you normally would say ‘yes’, but it may mean that you don’t want to answer the question. You can be polite yet firm when you do that. Don’t worry too much about how your answer comes across, but focus on being true to yourself.
2. Don’t Give Away Information You Don’t Want a Follow-Up On
On that note – when you answer questions, think ahead of what you want to answer. Your answer may trigger a follow-up or two. That applies to the more personal topics as well as the work-related. Although you should stay away from personal answers anyway, to illustrate: your answer on the casual question how your weekend was, shouldn’t be “I honestly can’t remember what happened after 10 PM on Saturday.” That will raise a red flag and prompt a follow-up or two – if it even comes to that.
Work-related, you can think of answers to questions on things that went wrong in a project, for instance. If your response contains “it came to a massive row with two of my team members,” will also raise questions. It’s good if it is true, but you better make sure you have a good explanation as to what happened.
What to do instead:
Take the time before the interview to think about questions you may expect. There are standard questions you should get in a standard interview. Think of the answers ahead of time. And when you’re caught off guard in the interview, take your time to think of an answer. Nobody should expect that you immediately have a response ready. It is ok to take a few seconds to collect your thoughts.
3. Don’t Fill Up Moments of Silence
I honestly believe that this is one of the most difficult things to do, especially when there’s something riding on the outcome of the discussion. The moment a conversation stops, if only for a few seconds, we start to worry. Seconds feel like minutes, and immediately worry or panic take over. A few thoughts include “Was my answer wrong?”, or “Did I say something bad?”, or “Did my conversation partner lose interest?”. This applies to work and private: it’s universal.
The thing is: you may be right. In all cases. You may be wrong. It may be on purpose, to see how you react. It may be a powerplay. It may be that your interviewer is distracted. Or collecting thoughts for the next question.
What to do instead:
Until you understand why there’s a silence, what you say may be wrong – or more wrong. So, if you’re happy with your answer, leave it at that. Calmly wait until your discussion partner is ready for the next question. You’ll see quick enough what the cause of the silence was, and you can take it from there.
4. Don’t Blabber
Creating a waterfall of words is a bad idea for any discussion, and for a job interview it is pretty high on the list. Again, with you preparing for the interview, anticipating questions based on your resume and their job description, topped off with the standard HR questions, you should be able to have powerful, concise answers ready. If that’s not the case, you run the risk of a long-winded answer that lacks oomph. Respect the time and patience of your interviewer, and avoid saying in 10 sentences, that what can be said in three.
What to do instead:
Similar to previous points, prepare and take the time in the interview itself to allow yourself a few seconds to collect your thoughts. A good way to buy some time, and to help you guide to a good answer, is answering the question by repeating the question. Those extra few seconds may help you think of a few good sentences to respond to the question.
5. Think of What’s online
The time we live in now means that a lot takes place online. We share information, photos and personal, sometimes intimate details and events with others. Sometimes just close friends and acquaintances, but sometimes with strangers. An open profile on Facebook or Instagram or a channel on TikTok or YouTube means that others can find you and check you out. When you use hashtags, you may end up in peoples’ feeds or on “explore pages”.
What to do instead:
With that in mind, take a look at your online presence. What does a potential hiring manager or HR specialist see, if they decide to google you? Don’t just think of photos, but think about comments you make. You can find comments you have made on popular platforms such as Reddit and reviews you have left on Amazon, Yelp or Google. Every word you type, paints a picture of you. It doesn’t have to be inappropriate or offensive: a bad review where you blast a company, may be seen as telling about how you deal with people.
Take a look, and make sure it’s a picture you want others to find. Top tip: think of photos or posts you’re tagged in. Remove the tag or have the person remove the photo if you don’t want it online.
AskAway disrupts the way recruitment is done, by eliminating the need to plan and schedule time-consuming meetings in packed agendas and by offering tools to record or even prerecord interviews. This allows you and your hiring team the opportunity to share and analyze the candidates for your interviews when it suits you. We pre-screen so you don’t have to: talk about the ultimate time management tool.
Contact us to find out more, or sign up for a no-strings attached free demo of our tool here.