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Wait 2 Seconds Before Answering a Question

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Wait two seconds before you answer any question.

It will feel really awkward! You will worry that the interviewer is wondering what is taking you so long! Will the interviewer get bored waiting? You will worry that the interviewer thinks you do not know the answer! It will seem like forever in your own head…at first.

Waiting at least two seconds before you answer an interviewer's question will always make you look thoughtful and confident. It will even help you deliver the message that you want the interviewer to hear.

To start, try it with friends or family and practice until you get comfortable with it; start with shorter gaps and see what length is comfortable for you. You can even wait up to five seconds.

By waiting a couple of seconds to answer every question:

  1. You will ensure that you listen to the whole question and not jump to conclusions based on the beginning of the question only. We are often waiting to talk as opposed to listening which can cause us to not understand what the questioner really wants based on the whole question.
  2. It gives time for someone's words to penetrate our brain. We are less likely to blurt out an answer that we soon regret.
  3. On zoom calls it is often difficult to know when the interviewer is finished. By waiting, you will not interrupt someone who takes a breath or has a short pause in the question or statement.
  4. It gives you time to formulate your answer and think about what message they want to hear and what message you want them to hear.
  5. When you are unsure of what they want it will give you time to think about and formulate your answer.
  6. The interviewer will never know the difference between when you need a couple of seconds to formulate an answer and when you are totally prepared.
  7. It creates the impression that you are thoughtful, confident and genuinely interested.
  8. When we rush to answer, it can change our intonation and body language which are both crucial to any message. By waiting and taking control, you will be able to project the image and perception of a calm and in-control candidate.

As you practice patience, the silence will become less awkward and you will be perceived as more confident and thoughtful.

As with all things related to interviewing, practice and preparation make it better and it will sound natural to you and more importantly, the interviewer.

"Immigrants can have issues with languages, workplace cultures, and a lack of a network of people. Lutherwood listened to me and offered great advice. Local employers should consider hiring recent immigrants as we have so much to offer and are looking for a chance to prove ourselves."
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This Employment Ontario service is funded in part by the Government of Canada and the Government of Ontario.