How to Control the Interview Pace

Many people might think that the interview pace has nothing to do with them and that it's the interviewer's responsibility. However, this perception is entirely wrong. Firstly, it's your responsibility to control the interview pace, and secondly, to complete a high-quality interview, controlling the pace becomes crucial.

In general, an interview typically lasts around 30 minutes. If the conversation goes deeper, it could extend to about an hour. If the pace is faster, it could be as short as 20 minutes. Therefore, the key question here is: how can you, in around 30 minutes, demonstrate your qualifications and abilities to the interviewer effectively? So, during the interview, it's not about waiting for the interviewer to ask you questions; you need to take the initiative in controlling the pace of the interview.

Importance of Controlling the Interview Pace

Men with his hand up indicating ‘wait’

First, let's look at what happens when you don't control the interview pace:

  • Spending over 20 minutes talking about work experiences unrelated to the interview position.

  • Expressing determination, indulging in excessive small talk without demonstrating your abilities.

  • Waiting for the interviewer to ask questions, leading to a simple question-and-answer pattern.

  • Responding to the interviewer's questions in a disjointed manner, thinking on your feet.

If you find yourself in such a situation during an interview, not to mention whether you'll get the job, but at the very least, you won't leave a very positive impression on the interviewer.

Controlling the interview pace can bring many benefits in an interview, which includes: 

  • Create a positive impression. 

A good pace shows confidence, professionalism, and interest. It also avoids boredom, confusion, or frustration.

  • Communicate effectively.

A good pace allows both parties to express their thoughts clearly, listen actively, and ask relevant questions. It also prevents misunderstandings, interruptions, or distractions.

  • Showcase your strengths. 

A good pace enables you to highlight your skills, achievements, and fit for the role. It also allows you to address any concerns or objections that the interviewer may have.

  • Evaluate the opportunity. 

A good pace gives you enough time to learn about the job, the company, and the culture. It also helps you to decide if you want to pursue the position further.

What you Should be Doing

Interviewer extending her hand for a handshake

Prioritise Showcasing your Hard Skills or Skills Required 

For example, if you are interviewing for a new media operations role, you should provide a detailed account of your experience running a personal public account. Explain what settings you implemented, the reasons behind them, your objectives, experiments you conducted, feedback, and your thought process. 

These are all hard skills required for this position. Additionally, you need to interact with the interviewer during this process. They might ask how you obtained certain data, adjusted the structure of certain public account pages, or any other experiments you carried out. 

Regarding hard skills, you should find the experience or projects that best demonstrate your ability to meet the requirements of the interview position. Regarding soft skills, these should be evident throughout the interview, encompassing your thoughts on work and career development.

Allocate Time to Ask Questions 

This part is relatively straightforward. During the interview, you may be asked challenging questions and others designed to demonstrate your thinking. If the questions from the interviewer don't align well with the interview position, you should proactively shift the direction. 

For example, if you are interviewing for a new media operations position but have a sales background, and the interviewer asks about your previous work experience, provide a concise description of your sales experience and then transition to relevant project experiences. For example, discuss your experiments with a personal public account rather than dwelling on your sales performance and overtime. This approach saves interview time and keeps the interviewer engaged.

Tips for Controlling Interview Pace

Blocks spelling out TIPS

Prepare Well

Preparation is key to a successful interview. This includes researching the company and role, understanding the industry trends, and knowing your own resume inside out. Anticipating possible questions and preparing concise, relevant answers can help you feel more confident and control the pace of the interview. Having your own set of questions ready shows your interest in the role and allows you to steer the conversation.

Be Flexible

Every interviewer has a different style. Some may prefer a formal approach, while others may opt for a more casual conversation. Being able to adapt to their style and expectations can help you establish rapport and keep the interview on track. While it’s important to follow their lead, don’t hesitate to guide the conversation when necessary.

Be Mindful

Paying attention to the mood, tone, and flow of the interview can provide valuable cues about how you should respond. If the interviewer seems rushed, try to keep your answers brief and to the point. If they seem interested in a particular topic, feel free to elaborate on it. Adjusting your speech (speed, volume, pitch) according to the situation can also help maintain a comfortable pace.

Be Respectful

Respect goes a long way in an interview setting. Avoid interrupting or talking over the interviewer. Allow for pauses and silences – they provide time for reflection and can often lead to insightful discussions. Be mindful of the interviewer’s time; avoid dragging out your responses but also don’t rush through them.

In Summary

To sum it up, mastering the pace of an interview can be a game-changer in your job search. It's not just the interviewer's job to steer the ship – you've got a role to play in this too. When you're in control, you not only get to highlight your skills effectively but also make a great impression. It's all about showing your confidence, professionalism, and genuine interest in the position. Plus, it makes the conversation smoother and more efficient, leaving a positive mark.

So, what's the game plan? Well, you should focus on showcasing your hard skills, just like a pro. Think about the experiences that scream, "I'm the right fit!" And remember, those soft skills should shine throughout the conversation.

Don't forget to save some time to ask your own questions. This part's crucial. If you feel like the interview is veering off track, it's okay to steer it back in the right direction. Stay flexible, read the room, and adapt to the interviewer's style.

Lastly, always remember to be respectful. That means no interruptions, no rushed answers, and no dragging on forever. If you can nail this interview pace, you're well on your way to landing that dream job. So, take the reins and go ace that interview!