Hit Pause on That Next Interview Question

October 18th, 2013
HireVue Team
Video Interviewing

You have a set of candidates who breezed through the first round with perfect answers to your digital interview questions. Your next interview is a one-on-one, and you want to get the most out of the time that you have with each candidate to make sure you find the perfect fit for your organization.

Instead of quickly running through your list of scripted questions (though we do recommend sticking to a script), one of the most powerful interview techniques a hiring manager can use is silence. Rather than skipping straight from answer to question to answer to question, silently count to five before asking another question after your candidate has responded.

Leaving a second pause invites the interviewee to continue to talk-- either to expand on what he or she has already said, or to move in a different direction. This can afford the team with a better view into the way a candidate thinks and feels, and can help you determine whether a candidate is a good fit for your organization.

Though it's not recommended you do this after every question (for example, sitting in silence for five seconds after a factual question will likely leave everyone feeling silly and awkward), this can be a really powerful way to transform an interview from a Q&A session into an actual conversation between two people.

For this technique, be sure to ask candidates questions that provide plenty of room for self-analysis. As stated by Inc, if you pause after the initial answer, candidates will likely fill the space "with an additional example, a more detailed explanation, a completely different perspective on the question."

This is a great interview technique for bringing shy candidates out of their shells, and can also help you gauge candidates who came prepared with "perfect" answers. Showing candidates that you're not just asking questions-- that you're listening to them, too-- will help you move your interview from finding answers to questions on a checklist to an actual, valuable tool that will help you gauge cultural fit, skills and ability, and the real worth of your candidates.