Last week five separate candidates were rejected for rambling. Today, we’ll explore the ramble.
Rambling is not to be confused with fillabustering. “Fillabustering” (worse than the ramble) is the act of talking nonstophopingthatthequestionaskerwillnotnoticeandcannotdecideifheshouldcutyouoff. Whew. That is the fillabusterer. Believe me, Filla, you are not getting through my team. We have a button we push when you are on the scene.
No, we’re talking “rambling”. Now, in simple terms, “rambling” usually refers to answering something less succinctly than possible — my office manager likes to yell “TWITTER SPEAK PEOPLE!!! 140 CHARACTERS OR LESS!!” — and while I agree that I’d love it if everyone could speak that succinctly (or perhaps in Haiku?), “rambling” is far worse than this.
Offending candidate ramblers just plain old fail to answer the question. When asked how they would set up a DNS, they may talk about the first time they learned what a DNS is. When asked for an example of a project of which the candidate was particularly proud, the rambler has 3 examples — and never quite explains why she felt pride.
Solution: Answer the Question
(The lawyer in me requires that I offer this disclaimer: Warning, this blog post was written by a lawyer. You know, the person who tells you before your deposition to answer”yes/no” questions with “yes” or “no”? Right. That’s me.) Seriously. Answer the question you were asked. Right before you start answering an interview question, take a second, think about what you were asked, and make sure you answer THAT. It’s an art, and it’s not comfortable for everyone. But, you may not have been asked what you hoped you were asked. You may not be asked what you think you should be asked. You were asked a question that the interviewer deemed relevant, answerable, and worthy.
Watch for body language.
The rambler misses the physical cues of his interviewer(s). Try watching body language yourself. Are people squirming uncomfortably? Is your panel looking at his list of questions and then at you, then at the list, then at you? Is your panel checking their watches? Most ramblers could stop themselves if only they were observing their interviewers subtle and not-so-subtle behaviors.
Ever catch yourself babbling? I think each of us has rambled on nervously at some point or the other. Catch yourself, and fix it — even if you have to do it mid-sentence. A trick that works for many is to say “I am rambling. I apologize. Going back to my answer, let me just say ‘yes, I did perform a lobotomy during my residency. — I get a bit carried away on that topic.”
Practice makes Perfect.
Consider practicing your interview answers. Tell your friend or family members the expected questions. Practice your answers. Ask them to listen and tell you if you answered the question. Ask them to count the times you say “another thing is”. Record the session, and play back the questions. Were you asked “how would you”, and did you answer with a “first, I would…?” If not, you likely rambled.
With more full disclosure, I should admit that I do not tweet. But, I also don’t ramble. (Remember, I’m the blunt New Yorker.) So, why not try tweeting? How can some 100s of millions of people get their points across in 140 characters, while you are struggling with 1400 words? Try it. At worst, it makes you a follower. At best, you curb your ramble habit. Oh, and please tell us in 140 characters or less how you did on your journey to cure yourself of your rambling ways. We’d love to hear from you – if you keep it short!