February 20, 2017

“In one sentence…”

Years ago, I was involved with an interview panel for a candidate who couldn’t seem to articulate his thoughts and viewpoints. While his answers to our questions were acceptable, he lacked candor. With the hopes of leading the candidate to more revealing and focused answers, one of my colleagues asked him a simple question, “in one sentence, what do you want from this job?”

The candidate offered up all the correct answers he could come up with—”to become a better developer; to learn how this company works and make it better; oh, and for the challenge; to be awesome; to do great work; to solve difficult problems.” His multiple responses only soured our opinion and diluted what could’ve been a great answer.

In the end, we didn’t move forward with the candidate. It was tough to gauge his viewpoints or skill based on his responses, which taught me a valuable lesson:

Words are powerful, and often, using fewer words makes the biggest impact.

Next time you’re in a position that requires a careful choice of words, try to deliver those words with brevity. Take your time, think, and articulate.

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