Hey Mr. Healthcare IT Candidate – Please STOP Talking!

You know it in your gut when you present a candidate who absolutely has the skills to do the job. The sweet spot! Raw talent, skills, proven track record, smart and all of the domain knowledge one would need to sell software and services in the markets we serve – healthcare. The resume was stellar, the deal sheet of previous sales this guy made over the years was amazing. A real over-acheiver. On paper.

Having said all of that, we knew out of the gate there was this lingering risk factor. Oh YEAH. It was the orifice on the front of his face that could not stop moving. His mouth! We spotted it on the first interview – but it was not that noticeable. During the 2nd round – it was more apparent so we began a dialogue with the candidate to control the over-the-top chatter with some coaching. It seemed to work! The candidate began to listen, pause and provide concise sound byte answers that were crisp and clear. Now we are getting somewhere. Hold that thought please.

We had Mr Wonderful prepped for the face to face with our client. The plane arrived on time and the short trip to their offices was ahead of schedule. So far so good. Then it was time for the interview. And you guessed it. The stripes on this Zebra returned on that day the minute he walked through the vestibule of their corporate offices. While I was not there to witness the debacle – I had the opportunity to hear all about it from everyone involved in the interview. He blew it! He just could NOT shut up. Apparently he opted out of using sentences and decided to speak mostly in paragraphs. Yep. The plain concise sound byte answers to questions he was asked were no longer the order of the day. He talked too much. Yap Yap Yap. Oh boy…just a bad interview.

The COO was the last one to interview him and asked him a simple question. Seemed fair to me…

Well apparently his answer was much more detailed. Over the top! After several minutes the COO looked at his watch. This brainchild had been talking for a full 5 minutes without a single pause. The COO finally waved his hand – No Mas. He’d had enough and so had everyone else. Game over. I do understand that it’s very difficult to change someone’s personality (ok – impossible) and this is not the first time we have interviewed a chatty candidate. It is however, the first time a pending offer went up in flames because a candidate could not control his communication output during a critical interview.

Way to go! Thanks again Mr Wonderful.

Nice job. And the search goes on.

About the author


Tim Tolan

Tim Tolan is the Senior Partner of the Healthcare IT and Services Practice of Sanford Rose Associates. He has conducted searches for CEOs, presidents, senior vice presidents, vice presidents of business development, product development and sales. Tim is also the co-author of "The CEO’s Guide to Talent Acquisition – Finding Talent Your Competitors Overlook," available on Amazon.


  • Interviews are just sales calls with resumes in lieu of brochures. And the single biggest mistake you can make on a sales call is to talk too much. Candidates will be perceived as much more agreeable if they let the interviewer do the talking, and a consummate interviewee( or salesperson) will find ways to redirect the conversation back to their audience.

    But getting the blabbermouth to stop…probably impossible.

  • Brendan:

    Truer words were never spoken. Candidate’s (like sale people) can easily work themselves into a corner by talking too much. Does not work… Nope. never.

  • Tim,

    Oooohhh, you had me cringing and laughing all at the same time.

    I’ve had clients like that. I tell these chatter boxes, “Less is more. Let this be your mantra. Repeat after me… LESS IS MORE.”

    I understand they are nervous, or want to let the poor, trapped listener know everything they know about the position, or how they are perfect for it, but as you clearly stated… most times it’s good to just LISTEN.

    Good post!

    Erin Kennedy

  • Erin:

    Less is more and employers are always trying to determine if a candidate has good listening skills. If they can’t keep their mouth closed to hear about the opportunity – well let’s just say they will miss the boat. With one mouth and two ears – it’s always better to talk less and listen more!


  • Tim,
    How I feel your pain! I’ve found even the cold hard truth… “John, while I appreciate your enthusiasm for your work, you must be more mindful of your answers and keep your responses short and to the point”… it seems to be a characteristic they just cannot control.
    We’ve all suffered exhaustion at least once from that type of interview. Thanks so much for bringing a smile to my face today!

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