How much detail should I share about my experience when I’m interviewing?
This is a great question and it’s near the top of the list as to why hiring managers pass on candidates. Candidates don’t get the job because they either talk too much . . . or didn’t give enough detail when asked specific questions and talked too little.
I’ve seen this happen over many different consumer product companies, different hiring managers, over a variety of positions (sales, category management, and supply chain) and different levels (analyst positions up to VP level). No one seems to be immune.
So where is the fine line between sharing enough information, but not sharing too much? Before I answer this, you need to be aware of one very important perspective.
The CPG industry is analytical, and for most everyone, the analytical side of their brain is dominant over the creative side. Analytical people are by nature fact-based, so you want to stick the facts, don’t give them any fluff, and most importantly, don’t ramble. Make your point and move on, but don’t ever shortchange your answer. If you have good information that the hiring manager is asking for, be sure you address all the points of what’s being asked: no more, no less.
So how much do you need to share?
As you’re sharing details your experience, usually you’ll hit a point where you can continue giving more detail, or related information about your experience. If you’re not sure whether you should continue to go into further detail or if you should stop, the best thing you can do is simply ask the hiring manager and let him/her tell you.
“Would you like me to give you further details about ‘X,” or move on to ‘Y’ or ‘Z’?”
It really doesn’t matter what the hiring manager says. The answer they give will tell you exactly what you should do. You’re allowing them to guide you as to how much information you need to be sharing.
By allowing the hiring manager to steer you, you’ll be in sync with the amount of information the hiring manager is seeking. Finally, it will also give you a strong clue as to how much detail to share in the next question as well.
Do you ever ask yourself, “what is the secret to a happy life?” Do you ever find yourself getting wound up about really trivial matters, things that never should have even come close to getting you frustrated? As Tim Hoch says in his article “10 Ways You’re Making Your Life Harder Than It Has To Be,” this is what we can call “ascribing intent,” and it has the power to ruin your day in the blink of an eye.
Here are the examples that Hoch lays out in his article:Another driver cut you off. Your friend never texted you back. Your co-worker went to lunch without you. Everyone can find a reason to be offended on a steady basis. So what caused you to be offended? You assigned bad intent to these otherwise innocuous actions. You took it as a personal affront, a slap in the face.
This tendency to take these tiny actions so personally is not a prominent characteristic of happy people. And yet, there are so many people who ascribe intent in these situations every single day.
The only way that you can get past this common hang-up is to realize that not every action has intent behind it, or at least the intent that you have ascribed to it. Another driver cut you off? Maybe he or she didn’t see you. Your friend never texted you back? Maybe they were busy at the time, and simply forgot.
Nobody knows the single secret to a happy life, but I know this much: you won’t find happiness in taking offense to these tiny situations that pop up in your life. Fight the urge to ascribe intent, and you’ll be a much happier person.
Focus the content of your emails.
When sending an email, try to deal with only one topic at a time. If you’ve ever sent an email with several questions that all require responses and received an answer to just one of the topics, you know how typical it is for the individual on the receiving end to think they’ve answered you… and then potentially delete the original email. It’s ok to ask more than one question in one email as long as it all pertains to the same general topic. The problem comes when you are dealing with several different subjects. From the recipient’s standpoint, they may feel overwhelmed by all the topics vying for their attention in that one email. This frustration can lead to putting your email on the back burner or even permanently ignoring it.
Everyone needs an email buddy.
We’ve all experienced emails we wish we could take back…or wish we had never received. From time to time, everyone deals with sensitive subjects that when communicated by email have the potential to absolutely explode if not worded correctly. Identify an email buddy who is willing to review and provide honest evaluation to your sensitive emails before sending. This simple tactic could save you a lot of grief in the long run. Make sure your email buddy is someone you trust and can confide in fully. More importantly, select someone who is going to shoot straight with you and won’t be afraid to tell you when an email could cause problems, and who will openly suggest changes.