Mastering the Art of Interviewing: Short and Sweet Wins the Race (Especially in financial services!)
More © Win Nondakowit | Dreamstime.com The interview process is a pivotal moment for any job-seeker. It's the high-stakes stage where candidates have the opportunity to shine and showcase their expertise. However, there's a valuable tip that executive recruiters can share: Less is more.
In this blog, we'll explain why concise responses are crucial, why candidates should limit their answers to 1-2 minutes, and how going off on tangents can be detrimental to their chances of landing the job. In theory, candidates are aware of this principle, but committing to a 'less is more' mindset before and during the interview significantly enhances the likelihood of putting it into practice.
Clarity is Key
In the financial services sector, clarity and precision are paramount. When you're asked a question during an interview, the hiring team is not just evaluating your knowledge; they're also assessing your ability to communicate effectively. Rambling or providing overly detailed responses can cloud the message and leave the interviewers with more questions than answers. Anyone who ever found themselves digressing onto a tangent during an interview knows that it is very difficult to get back to the point at hand. Remind yourself … keep your answers short and to the point. If need be, ask follow up questions such as, “Would you like me to go into more detail?” The majority of the time, the interviewer’s answer will be “No.”
Stay On Message
Candidates often believe that offering more information will make them stand out, but this isn't necessarily the case. Going off on tangents can divert the conversation away from the core points you want to convey. To ensure that your key messages are heard and remembered, it's essential to stay on topic and deliver your most pertinent points concisely. If a 45-minute interview has been allotted, there is no time to waste.
Interviewers have limited time to evaluate each candidate. If you provide lengthy responses, you risk overwhelming them with information. This can lead to a less favorable impression, as it may seem like you're not attuned to their time constraints or are unsure of your own value proposition.
The Art of Conciseness
So, what's the ideal length for an interview response? Generally, aim to keep your answers within the 1–2-minute range. This timeframe strikes a balance between providing enough information to address the question adequately while keeping the conversation focused and engaging.
Practice Makes Perfect
Mastering the art of concise interviewing requires practice. Rehearse your responses to common interview questions, focusing on clarity and brevity. Use the STAR method (Situation, Task, Action, Result) to structure your answers, ensuring they're both concise and informative. If you tend to be nervous in interviews, practicing anticipated interview questions will be especially helpful.
The Power of Listening
Remember that interviews are not just about talking; they're also about listening. Pay close attention to the questions asked and the cues provided by the interviewers. A concise response that directly addresses their concerns demonstrates your ability to understand and respond effectively.
Leave Them Wanting More
A well-structured, succinct response leaves a positive impression and invites follow-up questions. It keeps the conversation flowing smoothly and allows you to delve deeper into the topics that matter most to both you and the interviewers.
In the world of executive search (especially for the financial services industry), candidates who understand the value of brevity and clarity during interviews often stand out. By limiting your answers to 1-2 minutes, avoiding tangents, and staying on message, you'll increase your chances of leaving a lasting and positive impression on the hiring team. Keep this mindset as the frame work for your interviews. So, remember: Short and sweet wins the race.
Elisa Sheftic is the President and Managing Partner of Right Executive Search, LLC. Her expertise is placing mid- to C-level executives in the Financial Technology (fintech) and Financial Services industries. She communicates with Human Resources, Hiring Managers, and candidates on a daily basis and offers insights to clients and candidates on recruiting best practices. Elisa received her MBA from New York University and completed her HR post-graduate studies at Cornell University.