You Can Say Too Much

Our simple recruiting practices and experience recommend you choose your words wisely in your interview.

The next couple of blogs are going to be less philosophical and much more pragmatic. Starting with today’s, it seems that people are taking the interview process much less serious than it is. I am seeing and hearing feedback from hiring managers that candidates are either not as prepared as they would like them to be or, as today’s topic indicates, the candidates are talking way too much, and sharing TMI (too much information). Here are a few simple tips from my recruiting practices that you should know.

Let’s start off with the first premise: talking way too much. There needs to be a balance between the amount of conversation occurring between the two parties: manager and candidate. Candidates must realize that no matter what the current position is they are asking for and providing information that can determine if their next move is the right one. They must realize they cannot dominate the conversation, or they will be perceived as either a “know it all,” or someone that needs to be the center of attention. When a manager asks a question, try to speak about that one question for no more than two minutes. From all my experience in recruiting practices, this is a good tip to take to heart if you tend to be a talker. Also, when giving broad statements, back them up with very specific examples. For example if they say, “Are you an investment banker that works in the transportation area?,” say “Yes, and here are my last three toll roads and two airports that I have financed.” With an answer as specific as that, there will be no doubt in the hiring manager’s mind that you are qualified in that area. And more importantly they can ask their next questions.

As for violating TMI, this is also starting to become an issue. With hiring managers not as strict as they were in the early 2000’s, and being much friendlier in their approach, it is causing candidates to put their guard down. Candidates are now feeling much more comfortable showing their personal side. I think the reason for this is that they want to humanize themselves to help find “rapport” with the hiring manager. But there is a line that is now being crossed, and that is sharing personal information about family, politics, religion, etc. Everything that we have been taught, which is considered taboo in the interview process, is now becoming regular topics by many of the candidates. I cannot stress this enough from my experience and recruiting practices: this is not the way to build rapport. You may think that the hiring manager and you are becoming “best friends,” but in the long run this can and certainly will backfire. And that worst part is that the candidates do not realize why they are not getting an offer. In essence, they talked themselves right out of a job by sharing too much personal information.  

So in conclusion, do your due diligence on a firm and keep the conversation to strictly business topics. When a firm is “wining and dining” you, that especially seems to be the time when candidates lose control of the conversations to their detriment. If my recruiting practices have taught me one thing: Don’t let this happen to you.

About Harlan Friedman, JD & Founding Member, H. Friedman Search LLC. Harlan is a thirty-year veteran Public Finance Banker turned recruiter who specializes in the placement of all level Public Finance Bankers, Health Care Bankers, Municipal Financial Advisors, Compliance Officers, FinOps & Bond Counsels. He can be reached at harlan@hfriedmansearch.com or 760-477-1284.

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