The contradiction though is that simplicity is not simple and keeping or making things simple is hard – it’s much easier to do what you have always done. Making things simple takes commitment and energy to do and complexity can creep in at any moment. It lurks around every corner!
At bselected, I hear this pattern repeatedly in candidates going through their promotion or interview processes. There is an inherent trend, a need, and it seems like a compulsion for candidates to complicate, add irrelevant information and just waffle when answering questions.
Even when I am explicit in my direction and coaching saying “Do exactly as I say, don’t add anything in, stick to the rules I have given you…”, many candidates still ignore me and drone on and on.
They are seemingly facing an internal battle, thinking, “The answer to that question can’t be that simple, it just can’t. I’d better add some ‘stuff’ in.”
I have news for you – it can be that simple and it is that simple. There is just no need to massively over complicate answers.
So Why Does this Happen?
In my opinion and when discussing this with candidates they;
- Think complex sounds impressive – it isn’t.
- Think complex improves their chances of scoring highly – it doesn’t.
- Think it is what the assessors expect – nope.
- Think complex differentiates you from others – probably, but not in a good way.
Think of the poor old assessor. Keep in mind that if it is complicated for you to deliver an answer or response, they will have no idea what you are talking about. Assessing is difficult and adding layer upon layer of complexity will merely make their job harder and alienate them. Bias will kick in and they may well mark you down, even if hidden in the fluff and waffle there is a good answer.
Adding complexity is also incremental. Candidates will add more and more irrelevant or complicated detail, trying to impress and rescue the situation when they see the assessor begin to glaze over. Inevitably they spiral downwards into a funnel of doom.
So the question is; how can we fix this?
Top Tips for Keeping Simple & Effective
Firstly, you really need to want and be determined to make answers simple. You must put a high value on the work that will be required or it just will not happen.
- Critically (for my sanity) please Answer The Question! I am continually amazed (and frustrated) by how many candidates just do not do this. If you are asked to talk about ‘oranges’ but talk about ‘pears’, you have no chance of passing.
- Work hard to ensure your answer has only has relevant (& interesting) content that links to the question asked and the competency being assessed. Look at your answers at take out all the fluff. Not everything that is in a first draft really needs to be there. Challenge yourself to discard the waffle.
- It’s much easier to try and modify an existing answer in order to simplify it, but sometimes you just need to start again. Accept this is a fact. It may help to break your answer down into sections (as I show you in all our Interview Success programmes).
- Resist the urge to add complexity at all costs. Fight it when it is lurking in your head!
- Be extremely cautious with advice from peers, friends & family. Even though it will be well intentioned, it will almost always be incorrect and at the very least complicate matters. Most others who have been successful through a selection process rarely know why they were successful; so will tell you allsorts of weird and wonderful things. The vast majority of this is, frankly, rubbish.
- #bemorenormal – Adding complexity tends to remove authenticity which is critical if you are to have impact in your assessment. Often it just sounds weird.
- If you are following the Online Interview Success Programme, have a personal consultation with me or attend a Interview Success Masterclasses and I tell you to do something – then do it! It’s said for a reason and that is I know it works.
So, if you have a tendency to waffle and need expert help to be as simple and effective as you can be when going through a selection process – give me a call on 07792294076 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. I can help – simple.