Why Silence is Golden in Interviews

Steve Lowisz
Most recruiters don’t realize it...

But silence is actually a GOOD thing in interviews!

Put yourself in the candidate’s shoes. You’re probably stressed and hoping to make the best impression.

When you hear a tough question or try to recall a story that happened years ago, it can take several seconds to think about your answer.

As a candidate, that goes by in the blink of an eye because you’re under pressure.

But as an interviewer, it drags on and you may want to do something about the awkward silence.

That’s where a lot of recruiters make a key mistake!

Slow Down and Embrace Silence

We all know pauses in conversation can be uncomfortable for interviewers. 
During these pauses, it can be tempting to try to throw a candidate a lifeline by rephrasing, repeating, or explaining the question. 
But if you do this, the candidate may feel rushed and get frustrated or more anxious
This only makes it harder to get a genuine response from the person we’re interviewing! 
Instead, wait out the silence while the candidate processes the question. 
Give them some silence to process the question, search their memory banks, and formulate a response.

When to Wait - And When to Jump In

So how long should you wait before repeating or rephrasing the question?

10 seconds is a great benchmark. Usually, candidates won’t need that much time, but it gives them some breathing room.

If candidates typically need all 10 seconds to think, your questions might be too complicated or confusing.
In these situations, you should consider rephrasing or changing the question.

Alternatively, you could break up a single complex question into several simpler questions.

Getting an Honest Impression

The more you can put a candidate at ease, the more likely you are to see their authentic self – not the façade everyone puts on during an interview.
And there’s nothing more valuable during an interview than getting an honest impression of the candidate! 

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