How to Destroy a Job Interview

You're there to answer questions, but don't talk too much.

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Outside Voices - ''Working Girl'' aka Karen Burns
You arrive on time, dressed to fit in, thoroughly informed about the company and armed with answers to questions such as, "What are your greatest weaknesses?"

However, there is still one big thing you can do to destroy your job interview.

You can talk too much.

It's a real interview killer. Babbling turns off hiring managers! It gives them less time to get through their lists of questions. It makes them wonder what it would be like to work with you all day. It dilutes your message. Worse, you risk boring your interviewer.

Remember: Every word you say in a job interview should display your competence, experience, intelligence, and maturity. Also, sanity.

Whether or not you're the loquacious type, here's what to do in a job interview:

1. Verify that you've understood the questions. Ask, "Do you mean ________ or _________?"

2. Pause to ask for feedback. Say, "Is this the kind of information you're looking for?"

3. Keep an eye on your interviewer. Is he/she gazing out the window? Checking the time? That's bad.

4. Take a breath between sentences. It gives your listener a chance to absorb what you're saying.

5. Prepare a few compelling, under-two-minutes stories that show how your background and expertise fit the job.

A good general rule is to let the interviewer talk more than half the time. Lean forward. Nod. Listen. Everyone loves to be listened to. They'll think you're fabulous. And you'll ace that job interview.

Karen Burns, Working Girl, is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl: Real-Life Career Advice You Can Actually Use, to be released by Running Press in April 2009. She blogs at