Silence during an interview
It is believed that using the all-knowing silent look is a great way to get an admission. More importantly, it is a very risky tactic.
Silence can be a productive option during interviews, including the development stages of an admission gathering interview. It is most effective if you remain silent for several seconds at the conclusion of your subject’s response or story. In this scenario it is not uncommon for silence to cause the subject to feel a bit awkward and add additional information to the story. However, silence is typically not as effective during accusatory interviews seeking admissions.
Silence during the accusatory interview, particularly following the initial accusation can cause the interviewer to appear uncertain and provide the subject with precious seconds to create a story. This may then increase the subject’s resistance and erode the interviewer’s credibility. Increased resistance could lead to the subject providing details that aren’t accurate and becoming entrenched in their own lie.
As a general rule, silence can be a good option when used properly during an interview. But silence is not a good option during an accusatory interview as the potential costs of using the all-knowing silent stare outweigh the benefits.
by Chris Norris, CFI