Key Attributes at Interview: THE RIGHT LENGTH OF ANSWER!

By Sarah Bennett

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At Interview Heaven we run courses that give people tools so that they can be absolutely at the top of their game in any job interview. We also regularly interview recruiters in various fields in a series called ‘Panel’s Perspective’ to make sure we’re completely on track with our training and to give people key insights into what the panel are after.

Out of our most recent interviews, covering fields of Entertainment and Technology, Design Start Ups, Recruitment and Law, one of the most requested attributes in interview was giving the right length of answer to a question.


I’m amazed how many people can have worked in a role but when you ask them what they did they aren’t able to actually give a description that’s punchy and conveys the right level of detail.” Thomas Crane, General Counsel

Anything beyond hearing about the last year of the interviewee’s experience is irrelevant to me. I have read the CV and I just want the highlights that apply to my company.” Tom Mallory, IT and Design Start Ups

The clients switch off when the candidate starts to waffle… Especially when the candidate starts to talk about irrelevant experience.” Paul Robson, Project Resourcing

Answers need to be succinct and to the point. I switch off when people go into too much detail when all that is really needed is the point of the story relative to the job.” Louise Cook, Broadcasting HR

So…how do you know whether they’re looking for detail or just an overview?

We cover this in depth on the Interview Heaven course, however here are a few pointers:

1. Listen to the style of the question and answer in that style

Are they asking you to ‘sum up what makes you great for this job’ (requiring a high level summary), or have they said ‘tell me exactly how your previous experience relates to this role’ (requiring a more detailed approach).

2. Think before you speak

Many candidates make the mistake of ‘thinking out loud’. Instead take a moment to decide what, and how much you’re going to say before saying it.

3. Check in and Clarify

Look for signals in the panel – are they leaning forward and nodding for more, or have they glazed over? Keep an eye on how they are responding to your answer. If they seem surprised when you finish, don’t be afraid to ask whether they’d like a bit more detail.

About the Author

Sarah is a Trainer for Interview Heaven, a one day, intensive interview skills course which prepares you to be hired. If you know you have the skills to do the job, but don’t do yourself justice in interviews, or if you want to take the next step on the career ladder and need to have the edge, then it’s the right course for you. Interview Heaven offer Social Hire readers a 35% discount on their course. Just use code ‘SOCIAL’ when booking.

Additionally, Sarah is a certified NLP Trainer and Master Practitioner. She runs her own coaching practice, Canary Coaching, which offers one-on-one coaching to executives particularly within the media industry.  Sarah is also a Director of the online comedy production company, ComComedy. Sarah has over 7 years’ experience in the Legal and Banking sectors and is a playwright and director in her spare time. Sarah also runs specialist training for performers to succeed in auditions.


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