Avoiding “Tangents” During the Interview Process

April 15, 2019

As a recruiter, I work with professionals daily to perfect their interviewing skills. One of the most common challenges I coach on is communicating results without long winded tangents. Depending on the question, the average answer should be provided within 1-3 minutes to avoid losing your audience. This is going to vary (of course) on dialogue and interviewing technique. I guide professionals to provide detailed answers that are concise with a back story on the situation, the process that was implemented and the end result. The following tips are helpful to present solid communication skills and demonstrate results during the interview process:

Avoid generalizing answers.

Providing a factual example will build creditability during the interview process and will allow you to make your point clearer. Anyone can provide generalization and theories. Keep in mind, your achievements are unique and provide a track record of the skill set that you
have professionally developed.

Write it out!

Write down your achievements and start editing unnecessary details that cause tangents. Too many details can complicate the answer and confuse the interviewer, which is never a good method to build credibility. If you’re coming from a complex business model, start practicing a simple version to break down the model and communicate your achievements. Confusion does not lead to a job offer.


This is a simple principal that works. The best public speakers have developed confidence by practicing and consistently getting feedback to perfect their skills. Part of my job is to ensure the professionals that I partner with are prepared to present their capabilities and overcome challenging questions. This is done by having conversations and helping them navigate through challenging/ambiguous questions.

Write down your achievements and start editing unnecessary details that cause tangents.

Visual Examples.

Presenting work samples or a portfolio can make an impact to qualify you during the interview process. Timing is key in this situation. During the interview, when a particular topic is discussed, any relevant work examples should be presented to complement the discussion. I recommend a 3-prong approach: back story of the work example, process that was managed and

the end results (preferably with metrics tied to the end result). This approach should increase their understanding of your qualifications and credibility for the opportunity.

These tips may seem basic, however they work. The goal during the interview process is to demonstrate fluid and concise communication skills, which is an important factor all employers consider crucial for long term success.

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