What to do when an interviewer doesn’t let you speak?

Dear Deb:

Best yet on how to have a successful phone interview. Yet, I need guidance on an issue I have never seen addressed anywhere: While this article advises the interviewee to neither interrupt nor drone on, what does the interviewee do if the interviewer is guilty of one or both? I was recently on a scheduled phone interview with the head of the NYC office of a major international headhunter. I really wanted the opportunity to make a good impression on this firm. Unfortunately, the headhunter would raise a topic, and rather than pause to let me address it, would just charge on to her next topic. The few times I was able to start addressing an issue because she took a breath, she interrupted me and continued on her diatribe. Other than “hello,” and “goodbye,” I don’t recall being given the opportunity to complete a thought on any given topic. In such circumstances, what do you advise the candidate to sell him/herself?

Sincerely, Celeste, New Jersey 

Dear Celeste:

That happens every so often, especially with high-energy aggressive personalities.  Keep to the rule of not talking over the interviewer.  You could try saying something like this as you approach the end of the call, “Ms. Smith, I did not want to end the call without sharing my experience with ABC and how I would love the chance to do XYZ for your client/firm.”  This will be a challenge to succinctly sell yourself before the big talker jumps in again.  Then after the call, follow up with a brief thank you email and include one or two short selling points. 

Keep in mind that this is probably how that individual communicates on a daily basis. She is not likely to perceive anything negative about the interview.  However, you instincts are right that you need to do a bit of follow up to communicate why you are an excellent candidate. 

P.S.  Readers, this is the original blog entry that Celeste mentioned above.


If you have a question for Deb, please email [email protected]. The Ask Deb column appears every Friday on our blog at the Careers Done Write website.

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What to do when an interviewer doesn’t let you speak?

Dear Deb:

Best yet on how to have a successful phone interview. Yet, I need guidance on an issue I have never seen addressed anywhere: While this article advises the interviewee to neither interrupt nor drone on, what does the interviewee do if the interviewer is guilty of one or both? I was recently on a scheduled phone interview with the head of the NYC office of a major international headhunter. I really wanted the opportunity to make a good impression on this firm. Unfortunately, the headhunter would raise a topic, and rather than pause to let me address it, would just charge on to her next topic. The few times I was able to start addressing an issue because she took a breath, she interrupted me and continued on her diatribe. Other than “hello,” and “goodbye,” I don’t recall being given the opportunity to complete a thought on any given topic. In such circumstances, what do you advise the candidate to sell him/herself?

Sincerely, Celeste, New Jersey 

Dear Celeste:

That happens every so often, especially with high-energy aggressive personalities.  Keep to the rule of not talking over the interviewer.  You could try saying something like this as you approach the end of the call, “Ms. Smith, I did not want to end the call without sharing my experience with ABC and how I would love the chance to do XYZ for your client/firm.”  This will be a challenge to succinctly sell yourself before the big talker jumps in again.  Then after the call, follow up with a brief thank you email and include one or two short selling points. 

Keep in mind that this is probably how that individual communicates on a daily basis. She is not likely to perceive anything negative about the interview.  However, you instincts are right that you need to do a bit of follow up to communicate why you are an excellent candidate. 

P.S.  Readers, this is the original blog entry that Celeste mentioned above.


If you have a question for Deb, please email [email protected]. The Ask Deb column appears every Friday on our blog at the Careers Done Write website.

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