Manage the amount of information you give

It is important for you to be aware of the interviewer’s interest levels while you are speaking. If they do not look you in the eye while you are answering a question, it could be a signal that you are talking too much.

If you do not talk enough, however, it can seem like you have nothing to say. Having a well-structured answer ready can help you to provide the right amount of information.

You need to be able to explain your experience and background clearly and concisely in a job interview. Kiwi employers do not always like to hear long stories about your background and history. They also do not want to hear about how successful you have been in your career without clear evidence of this, or how you know important people in your country. 

This scenario looks at how to manage the amount of information that you give when you are answering a question in a job interview in New Zealand.

Which answer do you think provides the right amount of information?

Tell me about yourself.

I was born in Germany and went to university there. I have a master’s degree in civil engineering, specialising in health and safety that I completed over a two year period as an external student. It was really hard work studying and working at the same time. After graduating, I got my first job in a small engineering consultancy firm. I worked there for three years, and then I moved to a larger firm and worked there for two years…”

What a long and rambling story. I’m not sure if he can organise his thoughts clearly. What is he going to be like with our clients?

I am a civil engineer with ten years’ experience working with important companies in Europe.

Not much detail in his answer. I don’t like the use of ‘important’ companies. That is for me to judge. I’m not impressed with candidates who tell me how important they are. He might not fit in well with the team.

This applicant can organise his thoughts well. He is also motivated to join us and is well settled already in New Zealand and happy to stay. It might be worth putting some time and money into his training.

image of desk

Migrant: This question is a bit vague. It seems she wants to know everything about me. I’ll start from the beginning and describe what I’ve done since then.

Migrant: “I was born in Germany and went to university there. I have a master’s degree in civil engineering, specialising in health and safety that I completed over a two year period as an external student. It was really hard work studying and working at the same time. After graduating, I got my first job in a small engineering consultancy firm. I worked there for three years, and then I moved to a larger firm and worked there for two years…”

Employer: What a long and rambling story. I’m not sure if he can organise his thoughts clearly. What is he going to be like with our clients?

Migrant: This question is a bit vague but it seems that she wants a brief account of my career. I should tell her about the important companies I’ve worked for.

Migrant: “I am a civil engineer with ten years’ experience working with important companies in Europe.”

Employer: Not much detail in his answer. I don’t like the use of ‘important’ companies. That is for me to judge. I’m not impressed with candidates who tell me how important they are. He might not fit in well with the team.

Migrant: Here is a good opportunity to tell her about some key aspects of my career and why I want to work for this organisation. I need to address any concerns she might have about employing a migrant.

Migrant:  “I am a civil engineer with ten years of experience working with major construction companies in Britain, Germany and France as a health and safety manager. I have coordinated teams of up to ten employees working at a range of sites. I’ve applied for this position because I am keen to work in a progressive company that uses the latest technology and equipment. I migrated here with my wife and two children in January. We are here for the balanced lifestyle and I’ve already joined a tramping club.”

Employer: This applicant can organise his thoughts well. He is also motivated to join us and is well settled already in New Zealand and happy to stay. It might be worth putting some time and money into his training.

Up next

Interpret the interviewer’s intentions

You need to think carefully about the reason why the interviewer may be asking you the question. Sometimes the reasons may not be very clear to you, so it helps to consider why they might be asking.

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