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The Biggest Interviewing Mistake

by | Dec 1, 2009

I had the honor of being on the selection committee for the next Executive Director/President of the Dallas Holocaust Museum.

My group of 8 professionals culled the list down to 5 incredible finalists. Each candidate exemplified leadership and communication skills, or so I thought.

We interviewed each candidate for 2 hours and began each session the same way. We introduced ourselves with a two to three minute description of our background. Then the Chair of our committee said, “Thank you for meeting with us. Why don’t you take this opportunity to tell us a little about yourself.”

We already had their resumes. We knew about their background. That’s how they were picked as finalists.

Guess how long they talked, ‘when telling a little about themselves’? Four out of the five spoke for OVER 45 MINUTES! Only one spoke for five minutes and then said, “Oh, let me stop talking. What questions do you have?”

Your biggest interview mistake – over talking and under listening. Our two-hour interviews needed to be a group conversation, not a monologue.

For many reasons, we picked the 5-minute orator. But the ability to listen and talk – in that order – was a huge bonus in this person’s favor.


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