Monday, 20 December 2021

Blah, blah blah

Recently I read about a new behaviour doing the rounds called "Prolix syndrome". This is supposedly an affliction for interviewees in Zoom interviews where they simply don't stop talking, and the interviewers, instead of listening, get fixated on how many questions they still have to ask. And whether they might get a minute to ask them in the avalanche of information (Barden, 2021).  

Hmm. I don't think this is quite the meaning of prolix, which is noted as a 'formal disapproval' adjective, defined as "using too many words and therefore boring or difficult to read or listen to" (Cambridge Dictionary, 2021). 'Garrulous' might be the equivalent. Verbose, perhaps. In fact, would not either of those words do instead?

I wonder if vomiting up too much information in an interview needs to have to have anything to do with Covid-19, and using Zoom. As Barden (2021) implies, when talking on video, we can easily miss cues. Although Barden (2021) does not mention why that might be, I think we miss cues because - if we are well prepared and experienced Zoom users - we will be looking into the camera, and not looking at the people on the screen.

This brings up an interesting flaw in technology. Can technology be organised to allow us to see our audience, while appearing to look directly into the camera? It would be great if we could get that sorted. And it raises a couple of valuable points: how can we appear natural in an interview; and how can we check in easily to ensure we are not missing cues?

Firstly, we can ask the interviewers at the outset what their expectations are for the interview, and roughly how many questions they have for us. We can explain that we are asking so that we can ensure that we keep our answers to the point, and allow enough time for the all the panel's questions to be satisfactorily answered. We can explain that it is sometimes hard to judge cues when in a Zoom session, and we want to ensure that the panel get the information they need. 

Then we can then use a stopwatch app at our end to keep an eye on the time while we are answering the questions. We can be disciplined, professional, and not treat a Zoom session like a family Skype blather. 

Secondly, while we can direct our answers at the camera, we can make checking in with the panel easier by shrinking the Zoom window and having it just below our camera. Then, like the rear vision mirror in the car, we can keep an eye on what is happening for the panellists. We also take micro-pauses for a drink, a review of our notes, making a note, and check in with the panel as we change tasks. 

These are useful reminders for us all. And I really don't think there is a Prolix syndrome. 



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