Resource Centre Job Search Advice Interview Conversation: From Interrogation To Discussion

Interview Conversation: From Interrogation To Discussion

Are you feeling nervous about your upcoming job interview? Here are tips to make the experience feel less like an interrogation and more like a conversation.

interview conversation

You have been invited to an interview and you have gone ahead to prepare by doing all the necessary research and preparing answers to possible questions. You anticipate that this will be an interrogation and you are armed to the teeth with all the right answers. In your head, you have even framed your answers just right, according to various guidelines anyway. But, this does nothing but make you tense because you are scared of saying the wrong thing, which might ruin the whole interview, so, how about turning the interview into a conversation?

A conversation is likely to make you more relaxed and help you connect with the interviewer at a professional and intellectual level, thereby letting you discuss your skills and strengths with ease. This will also help you to easily remember the right answers and delve deeper into questions asked, as opposed to an interrogation where you give structured answers which may not help you dig deeper into your capabilities.

An interview conversation will also help you get more information from the interviewer as it will be a discussion and you will set yourself apart from other candidates as you will be memorable, for the right reasons of course.

Ask Questions

Most people wait until they are prompted to ask questions. However, during the interview, you are free to ask the interviewer for clarification on certain issues or questions. This brings down the tension in the room and shows that you are interested in details and not just to answer what you are asked and go.

You can easily do this by keenly listening to the interviewer. Let the interviewer take the lead and set the tone and pace of the interview. Keen listening also adds you points because employers want to engage someone who is attentive.

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However, if you hear something that is not clear to you, do not just answer what you understand, instead, politely ask a follow-up question and this will let the interviewer reveal more information and set you at ease.

On the other hand, by asking questions as soon as they arise, you get the rare opportunity to steer the conversation in your direction, where you will have control over how things turn out and you can demonstrate your capabilities.

Additionally, let your questions be open-ended. They should not be ‘yes’ or ‘no’ questions as these will not let the interviewer delve deeper into the subject matter. Such questions also do not show interest in the company and this is a red flag. Remember, the aim is to turn it into a conversation and not stick to the interrogation method.

For example, you can ask, “You said that your company is introducing new technologies to curb money lost through inefficiencies, could you kindly tell me what some of the inefficiencies are?” This shows that you have been paying attention and steers the conversation into something meaningful.

Don’t be Afraid to Loosen Up

Most people treat interviews like life and death situations, and maybe they are because you desperately need the job. However, if the interviewer makes a funny comment, do not be afraid to chuckle or make a comment, without going overboard. You are a human being and not a robot. As such, bring your whole self to the interview.

When you loosen up, the interviewer also becomes interested in you and is likely to be more conversational with you. This also brings warmth to the interview and the interviewer is more inclined to have an insightful conversation as opposed to when you are uptight and stiff.

Be human. Bring out the person in you. Remember, the whole purpose of an interview is for the interviewer to try and know who you are and see if you can fit within the company’s culture and work well with others.

Make Use of Non-verbal Communication


Your posture and general manner of conduct set the tone for how the conversation pans out. The interviewer pays attention to how you sit and how you conduct yourself and forms opinions about you and how you will conduct yourself.

As much are you are tensed, do not let this show. Walk into the interview room with confidence and greet the interviewer confidently. When you sit down, assume a natural but professional posture. This will show the interviewer that you mean business and they are likely to treat you as a peer as opposed to an interviewee.

When the interviewer sees you as a peer, he/she is likely to engage you through a meaningful conversation instead of interrogating you. Do not betray your tension once you start talking, engage the interviewer in a standard tone that matches theirs and remember to look them in the eye.

This sets the stage for an engaging conversation about your skills and experience and you are likely to show your value much more than if you had simply answered questions like a broken record.

Do Your Research

As is often recommended, do your research about the company before the interview. This will enable you to find information gaps which can then be the basis for your questions. If you want to have a conversation about the job, you should understand the company and what it entails. This way, you will be able to have a discussion about the company during your interview.

Research also helps you look knowledgeable and interested since you can ask precise questions and discuss real and existing problems with the interviewer.

Use Examples and Practical Situations When Giving Answers

As opposed to just sticking to standard answers to questions, give answers with examples of things you have done in similar situations before. For example, if you are asked why you want the job you can say, “I realise that I have the skills required for the job. For example, one of the requirements is that the ideal candidate should be able to manage a small team. That is something within my skill set as I have managed a team of 10 people before in my current capacity when my boss tasked me with implementing a system change within the company and we managed to complete the task on time.”

This can prompt the interviewer to ask you further questions on just how you went about it and thus, you get a chance to demonstrate that you have the right skills and a proven track record.

Pay Attention to the Interviewer’s Posture and Tone and Match it

In order for you to turn the interrogation into a conversation, you need to connect with the interviewer. One simple way of doing this is by matching the interviewer’s tone and posture. Listen carefully to what the interviewer is saying and how they are saying it and answer with the same zeal. This shows that you are attentive and the interviewer will want to keep talking to you and having a discussion as you seem to understand them.

Additionally, observe how the interviewer conducts themselves and try to match this. Remember, the interviewer’s conduct is guided by the organisation’s culture and as a potential candidate, it is good to show that you can fit within the culture. Therefore, try and match the interviewer’s conduct while still remaining professional. This puts both of you at ease and creates room for an interview conversation.

Be Patient with the Interviewer

interview discussion

Sometimes, you get a light bulb moment while the interviewer is still talking. Great listening skills go a long way so, patiently pay attention to what the interviewer is saying and then answer when you are given the opportunity. Jumping into the conversation just comes across as domineering and no one wants to work with someone who does not let others talk.

Patience helps the interview to turn into a conversation as you are able to gather a lot of information from the interviewer and then give an answer referencing what has been asked. The interviewer thus gets motivated to delve deeper into the conversation.

Thank the interviewer for their time and express interest in the position before leaving

When the interview is over, be sure to thank the interviewer for their time. This is a courtesy that will go a long way in making a good impression.
You should also express interest in the position and let the interviewer know that you would be excited to have the opportunity to work for their company. This will show that you’re truly interested in the job and not just going through the motions.

An interview conversation can help you calm down when you are full of tension. It also helps you to discuss your strengths well and bring out the best in you. An interview conversation is a way to go because interviews should not be interrogations. They are an opportunity for you to discuss your ability to do the job and not just answer questions.

Do you have any other tips for making a job interview feel less like an interrogation? Share them in the comments below!

Njeri Karanja
Notification Bell