The Truth Behind Interview Silences!

September 25th, 2012 | Articles, Interviewing | No Comments »

The sound of silence can be disheartening. As a people, Americans often feel uneasy about gaps in conversation and see a stoppage in speech as a sign of being turned down. We particularly dread the silence that can work its way into interview dialogue. That’s when our greatest fears take flight. We begin to imagine that every idle second is a fatal sign of the end but the reality is far less doom-and-gloom.

Most of these silences happen for the sake of genuine thought. When the interviewer has just asked a new question or the job seeker has just finished a response, those words need a moment to settle. Even though you may have anecdotes or answers prepared, you need time to pick the right one. Without a question by question agenda, you can’t always rattle off a reply in an instant. Most interviewers acknowledge this and appreciate the time you are taking to give them a meditated response.

Your interviewer is in a similar situation. Without an advanced copy of your responses, he or she will need a moment to reflect upon the content of each statement. That lingering silence can indicate note-taking as your interviewer pieces together the big picture of your career. This is especially true during phone interviews. Without critical visual cues, you needn’t get carried away with the negative implications of silence. It could just be your interviewer writing down your qualifications and mentally fitting you into the company structure.

So, take some solace in silence. That brief meditation can make the difference between an abrupt no and well-pondered yes!

By James Walsh

Image courtesy of bpsusf on flickr