My clients are experiencing a trend I must warn you about: interviewers now are starting to use extremely structured, highly regimented processes during screening interviews.
This usually involves the interviewer going through a standardized list of questions one by one, and recording your answer. The interviewer doesn’t comment or do follow up questions. In one case, it was a very junior recruiter doing this pre-screening with the senior recruiter listening in.
It feels like you’re talking into a vacuum. My unsuspecting clients found this silence and lack of response quite unnerving; those who were prepped for the possibility fared far better. Here are tips based on their experience:
- Resist the urge to say very much more than is needed to answer the question, because you risk babbling.
- If you can, intersperse some questions of your own, so you get more of a dialogue going.
- If that fails, make sure you ask questions at the end. After they get through their list, the interviewers tend to loosen up a bit. In the above case, the senior recruiter chimed in and a dialogue began.
This format is intended to provide a documented level playing field for all applicants and interviewees, and is a defense against potential lawsuits for discrimination. From what I’ve heard, major companies and retained recruiters use this method more often than smaller companies. The above case was for a senior position at a national non-profit organization.
Hopefully, this helps you be forewarned and thus forearmed.