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  • Writer's pictureKevin Sullivan

Here's a Great Question: How Do I Eliminate Fillers in Interviews

Over the weekend I heard a very sharp CEO interviewed on one of my favorite podcasts. While her overall performance was strong, she began each of her first four answers with some variation of, “That’s a great question.” I found it terribly distracting.

My hunch is that she didn’t really think each one was a great question. She was filling time while mentally composing her answer. Here are three better options:

  • Prepare for the anticipated questions so you can get right to your answer.

  • Pause. A little dead air is okay. It is perfectly fine to take a beat to think about your answer before you start speaking.

  • Paraphrase the question back at the beginning of your answer. For example, if asked about your future plans, start with, “When it comes to our plans for next quarter…” By doing this, you are giving yourself a moment for the gears to align in your brain and for your preparation to kick in, taking you right into your answer.

There are other common fillers, such as acknowledging the question with “sure,” “right,” “absolutely” or “so” before answering. Begin with a slight pause before speaking and you will display much greater command. Inserting a pause is also the best remedy for the timeless mid-sentence fillers, “um,” “you know” and “right?”

Legendary NBC executive Don Ohlmeyer once famously said, “the answer to all your questions is: Money.” When it comes to demonstrating leadership presence in an interview, the answer to all your questions is: Preparation.

(Photo by CoWomen on Unsplash)


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