Being Concise, Complete, and Compelling in Your Interview

by Brian Skory

Concise, complete, and compelling have been highlighted as three characteristics of good speech. If you think about it, they also apply perfectly to good interviewing! Let’s look at each one of them in the context of a job interview.


From our perspective, there are suddenly a lot of companies with a lot of open roles. That means lots of interviewing taking place and lots of busy hiring managers. One thing that a busy hiring manager does not have time for is a long, drawn-out interview where the candidate takes way more time than needed to answer the interview questions. Not only is this a stress to an already overly busy schedule, but it sends up all sorts of red flags to the hiring manager regarding this person’s ability to communicate. Hiring managers want to be able to ask a question and get a concise answer in response. Not enough of a response and you’ll be perceived as lacking in experience. Too much and you’ll be perceived as a “rambler.” Trust your instinct and shoot for just enough.


Just as you want to strive to be concise, you also want to be mindful that you are being complete. When there’s an absence of detail in your response, you might be perceived as tap-dancing around an area for which you don’t actually have a lot of experience. And if that’s the case, simply say that (in the interest of being concise), so that you can move on to questions that might highlight the areas for which you do have experience. But where you do have the experience, make sure that this comes through by being thorough enough in your description (while being concise, of course).


And as if there weren’t enough pressure being put on you, you should also strive to be compelling. Remember, you’re likely competing against several other interviewees so you should always be thinking about what might set you apart from the competition. A very good exercise is to take about an hour and go through your resume and come up with some compelling examples of what you brought to the table at your previous positions. And give some thought as to what would make you a compelling choice for the role you are interviewing for. Yes, this takes a bit of effort, but it very well could be the one thing that makes you shine and rise above the other candidates they are interviewing.

Another way to be compelling is to ensure that your enthusiasm and interest shine through. This is especially important for people who do not have an outgoing personality. Find a way that feels natural to articulate your excitement about the job you are interviewing for or the company you want to join.  

By the way, all of this also applies to what I like to refer to as the real first interview, or at least the real first impression: your resume. All of what we’ve talked about above applies there, too.

If you really want to nail that interview, grab a friend and give them some interview questions to feed you, and then get their take on whether you’re being concise, complete, and compelling. They may or may not know what you are talking about but they should be able to tell if you are rambling or being curt. Or being dull. At the very least it will be good practice for you. As I said above, it could be the one thing you did that set you apart from the others and landed you the job! 

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Brian Skory is one of Stout's Tech Talent Managers. Brian has has been with Stout since 2007 and is responsible for matching great talent with great jobs . Before Stout, Brian worked in a variety of technical industries including learning and development for software application training. In his spare time, Brian enjoys running, hiking Arizona's mountains, swimming, and rock climbing.
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