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 How to Handle an Interview without Questions

By Joe Stein

The title of this week’s column may seem like a really curious one. What do you mean…Joe? An interview without questions…that is impossible! Well, sometimes a Job Seeker gets into this near impossible situation where a Hiring Manager just does not ask direct questions or not many of them.
This all may be because the Hiring Manager is inexperienced and does not know what to ask. Perhaps he/she is trying to strike a conversational tone, or sometimes the person just goes off on a tangent explaining the company or the role and “forgets” to ask questions.
Unfortunately, as much of a relief as it may seem to be to avoid being drilled with questions by your Interviewer, the situation is probably not helping your chances of being hired at the end of the process. Remember you are not there to “chat” or just to listen, but rather to convince the Hiring Manager that you should be hired for the open position. So, if you find yourself in this scenario, how do you go about course correcting the interview before it is too late? Below are some tips to consider:
• Don’t Let It Rattle You: This is the most basic and most important tip. Don’t let the approach of the Hiring Manager throw you off of your game and forget why you are there. Don’t get pulled into the conversation in a way where the interview gets away from you and you can’t make your necessary points. By being aware of this potentially happening and preparing your counter response, you can place yourself in the best situation to navigate out of this issue.
• It is OK to Cut the Small Talk: You may sometimes wonder if the Hiring Manager is just lonely as they bring up weather, sports, etc. at the start of the interview. While some initial ice breaker conversation is good, you must not unnecessarily prolong the small talk by providing any more than what is required to answer the questions. If you don’t, the Hiring Manager may end the interview by concluding that you are a really interesting person, but having no idea if you would succeed in the role.
• Don’t Just Ask Questions: One interviewing style has the Hiring Manager asking you “up front” if you have any questions. I actually like to do that as a way of assisting the Job Seeker. While this is a good way for you to get a better understanding of the role and to make sure it sounds like a good fit, you may also find yourself only asking rather than answering questions. This is especially true if the Interviewer only has a set period of time for the interview and does not do a good job of cutting your questions off.
• Work Your Selling Points Into the Conversation – The key here is to recognize your opportunities and quickly work your selling point into what is being discussed. For example, if the Hiring Manager is busy telling you about current company challenges, wait for a pause and state “let me tell you how I solved a similar situation before” and begin your explanation.
• Don’t Just Provide Brief Career History Answers – One interview style you may come across is someone who just reads your resume back to you and pauses at each career stop to confirm some piece of information. It is imperative, in this situation, that you provide key accomplishments and not just what you did at each career stay. Also, try to connect your past positions directly to this desired role, so the Hiring Manager can visualize the fit. If you don’t do all of this, you may find yourself at the end of the interview with your only accomplishment being having re-read your resume.
• Answer the Question How You Want It Asked – An inexperienced Interviewer may ask rather obvious or close-ended questions that really just require not much more than a “Yes” or “No”. While you can answer them that way, but by doing so you will not “sell yourself” to any degree. What you could do instead, is answer the question as if it was asked better and provide a more detailed response that serves to your benefit.
• Ask For Time At The End: If you find that you are now nearing the end of the interview and you have not had time to work your key points into the discussion, ask for time at the end. Unless the Hiring Manager is due for another meeting, I am sure that the time will be granted and you can then go into your brief “elevator speech” in hopes of grabbing the Hiring Manager’s attention.
• Send the Thank You E-Mail: It is critical, in this situation that you not only send the thank you note, but include a brief summary of your accomplishments and why you are a perfect fit for the role.
Not all Interviewers or interviews are the same. A savvy Job Seeker must recognize if he/she finds themselves in a situation where they are not selling their candidacy.
As always, best of luck in your job search!