Saying less to say more

Q: I’ve often been told I talk too much. Guilty, as charged, I’d say. I haven’t done well in interviews – well, I haven’t got jobs even when I definitely had the experience. I fear I may have rabbited on too long. How might I curb this tendency? (UK ).

In any interview, candidates should veer away from what I call unprofitable cul-de-sacs, writes Fiona Barry, Career Coach, Sli Nua Careers.

In an effort to explain, you may indeed tend towards over explaining. Out of the desire to give context, and to be helpful, you may only confuse. Nervousness can cause some people to go into verbal overdrive, too.

Remember that the panel listening can only take so much information on board and, while I am a generally an advocate of speaking at length in interviews, it is important that what you tell them follows a coherent logic.

There is a law of diminishing returns whereby the more you tell them, the less they actually retain.

As you prepare for the interview, pulling together the key information you want to transmit, ask yourself the question: “What do I need to tell them so that they will understand?”

Sit in front of friends for a mock interview. Ask them to evaluate whether or not you went on too long.

A good habit for those who tend to talk too much is to ask the interview panel if they would like some further information. If they say yes, offer more; if not, sit tight and wait for the next question.

Clarify, yes; over-clarify, no. It is not chapter-and-verse each time. It’s the very story you want the panel to see here. Bear this in mind next time you’re going for interview.

Sli Nua Careers ( ) have offices in Galway (Patricia Maloney, 091 528883 ), Mayo (Ballinrobe and Claremorris ), Athlone, Limerick, Tullamore, Sligo, Tralee and Cork. Their services include CV preparation, interview training, job-searching strategies, public speaking and presentation skills, and career direction. For more details, visit


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