As a Recruiter, I get a lot of questions on how to answer certain interview questions. And while I’m happy to go through standard interview questions, and what potential employers may be looking for, there is a more pressing matter that I need to deal with. There have been countless times when I’ve asked a question and was still listening to the answer five minutes later. Except, at this point, the answer is no longer relevant to the question that I’ve asked. In our society we have an acronym we’ve coined – TMI, which stands for Too Much Information. Remember this when you are in an interview situation. Answer the question at hand. Do not go off on a tangent or, as one of my coworker’s used to preface a change in her dialogue, a fork in the road.
I do feel sometimes that I can write a book on inappropriate responses during interviews. The most extreme example happened to me very recently. The phone interview was wrapping up and, up to that point, it had gone very well. I asked the candidate if he had any questions and he asked me if there was a lot of travel required for the role. “And when I say travel, I mean flying”, he said. I took a breath to answer his question and he decided that now was a fine time to elaborate.
“I can’t fly”, he said.
Now there are people like me who really don’t like flying but for convenience sake, do it as needed. And there are people who are so petrified to fly that they really can’t fly. And then there are those who can’t fly because they are on what’s known as a “No Fly List”. Those of you who are familiar with this list know that it is a list, created by the government, of individuals who are not permitted to board a commercial aircraft in Canada (and/or the United States). My candidate proceeded to tell me that, when he was working for a previous employer, he was required to take a short flight to a meeting. He was with another coworker and his supervisor on this flight. Shortly after the flight took off, in his words “something came over me”. He took off his seatbelt and made his way to the front of the plane. He was stopped by a flight attendant who asked him to return to his seat. He explained to her that he needed the pilot to turn the plane back. She stood up and again asked him to return to his seat. He then picked her up and forcibly returned her to her seat and made his way to the cockpit. He claims he opened the cockpit door and said to the pilot that he wanted them to turn the plane back or he would do it for them. At this point, the flight attendant had notified his coworkers of the disruption and he was manhandled back into his seat. He stated that his supervisor sat on him for the rest of the entire flight. All of this earned him a spot on the prestigious No Fly List.
What would possess someone to divulge that kind of information? A simple “I’m afraid of flying” would have sufficed, end of sentence.
As I said, this is an extreme example but I’ve used it to highlight my point. Stick to the question at hand, answer it as succinctly as you can. Nerves can play a big part in this, as some individuals will have a tendency to ramble on. But be aware of that when you’re in an interview situation.
One of my favourite sayings from the aforementioned coworker is, “When I ask you the time, don’t tell me how the clock works.” Words to live by!
Lori-Anne Cunningham is a Continuing Education Student currently studying within the Career Consultant Certificate Program at Mohawk College. MCACES offers a comprehensive Employment Advisement program for our students. For more information about Employment Advisement, please visit the MCACES website, www.mcaces.ca or contact Lidia Siino, Employment & Communications Specialist at Lidia.firstname.lastname@example.org.