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How to Stop Talking Too Much in a Job Interview

How to Stop Talking Too Much in a Job Interview

Some people freeze in an interview setting and struggle to find the words they are looking for, while others face the opposite problem. Saying too much in a job interview can also harm your chances of landing your dream role.

Talking too much and rambling during a job interview dilutes your message and makes it difficult for the interview panel to focus on what you are saying. You bombard them with so much information that they struggle to determine if you’ve answered the question or provided the information they are looking for.

Learning to say the right amount in an interview is a key skill to develop. Thankfully, there are steps you can take to stop yourself from rambling and ensure your nerves don’t get the better of you.

Why do we ramble in job interviews?

The most common reason for rambling in job interviews is down to nerves. When you are nervous, you might struggle to know when to stop talking. Fear of saying the wrong thing or forgetting key information could lead you to ramble.

Another common reason for rambling is down to poor preparation. If you don’t feel prepared for the interview, you might struggle to deliver succinct answers. Practicing your answers in advance can help you to avoid rambling and missing out key information. 

And finally, some people simply have a rambling style of talking that they need to learn to control in an interview setting. You might tell meandering stories in your real life, but in an interview setting, you need to focus on delivering short and powerful answers to get your key points across.

How do you know if you are talking too much?

It’s natural to be more self-conscious in an interview setting. When all eyes are on you, every millisecond feels like a lifetime, and it can feel like you have been talking for a long time when you have in fact been quite quick in your answers.

You might be talking too much if you find that the interview panel feels the need to cut your answers short. If you find you are being interrupted while delivering your answers, this could be a sign that your answers are too long.

If you get to the end of an answer and feel breathless or confused about whether or not you answered the question, this is another sign that you are saying far too much.

And finally, this might be given as feedback following an unsuccessful interview. If you felt that you were saying too much and this might have hurt your chances, you can ask the panel for specific feedback and whether this was the issue.

How do you stop talking too much in an interview?

There are multiple approaches you can take to stop yourself from talking too much in an interview. The best approach will all depend on why you say too much and the reasons behind your rambling.

1. Get your nerves under control

If you ramble because you are nervous, you need to learn how to control your nerves. Learning how to appear more confident in a job interview – even if the situation makes you feel very nervous – is a key skill. 

One of the best ways to overcome nerves is through preparation. If you feel prepared for the situation, you are less likely to come across as nervous and rambling. To feel more prepared, make sure you review the job description and your own CV ahead of the interview. 

Think about some of the questions you might be asked and how you would answer them. Practice speaking aloud in front of a mirror, or ask a friend to try a mock interview with you so you can spot if you are rambling or delivering clear and concise answers.

2. Pace yourself

When you’re in an interview setting, you lose all perspective of timing. If you are silent for a moment, it can feel like a lifetime. Likewise, you can quickly lose track of how long you have been talking.

A great way to pace yourself and deliver stronger answers is to take a moment before you start answering the question. At the start of the interview, always ask for a glass of water. For difficult questions that you are worried you might ramble through, pause for a moment and take a sip of water.

This simple practice will help you to gain a grasp of time. The first time you try this, you’ll see that a moment of silence isn’t the end of the world. You don’t have to rush to start answering the question, and you can afford to leave a silence.

3. Understand the question before you speak

A common mistake that candidates make in an interview setting is starting to answer the question before they have made sure they fully understand what the interviewer is asking.

When you start answering a question that you haven’t fully understood, you will second guess yourself and change direction throughout your answer. This will lead to a meandering and confusing answer that probably won’t even touch on what was asked.

Make a habit of making sure you understand the question before you start answering. There is nothing wrong with asking for clarification before you deliver your answer. This will help you to provide a stronger and more relevant answer.

4. Try structuring your answers

If you struggle to structure your answers, you might not be suffering from nerves at all, you might just be struggling to formulate your answers so that you include all of the relevant information. When the fear hits that you have missed something out, you will continue talking, diluting the power of your delivery and making it more difficult for the interview panel to extract the value from your answers.

If this sounds like something you do, you might benefit from delivering your answers in a predetermined format. The STAR method is one such format. STAR stands for situation, task, action, and result. This is a popular way to answer situational interview questions and will help to formulate your answer so that you can feel more confident that you haven’t missed out any important information.

5. Just ask

Another highly effective way to make sure you aren’t talking too much is to ask. If you ramble because you are afraid of missing out key information, you can try splitting up your answers into parts. Start by delivering the key information. Once you have finished, pause and ask if the panel would like you to elaborate. If you’ve hit the key points, they will say no. But if they feel they are missing some key information, they might ask you to keep talking.

This is a highly effective way to take control of the interview situation and feel more confident in your answers. For this method to be successful, you need to be well prepared to deliver answers of different lengths. The best way to do this is to practice delivering answers to popular interview questions. 

Closing thoughts

Talking too much in a job interview can make your answers less powerful, so it’s worth trying to get this habit under control. By making sure you are well-prepared and practicing your answers, you can ensure you come across as more confident and self-assured in an interview setting. If you’re not sure if you are talking too much, ask for feedback from hiring managers. It could be that you are simply too self-aware and this is making you self-conscious.