should we hire a candidate who talked non-stop?

A reader writes:

We’re hiring for a candidate to fill in for me while I’m on maternity leave. The strongest candidate we’ve had so far has a great resume and industry experience, which is rare for us. But she was so talkative in the interview it was staggering. An interview that typically takes 30 minutes took over an hour and a half. I know about her favorite taco places, the renovations she’s doing on her house, how she met her husband, and where she gets her eyebrows waxed. My colleague and I could barely fit any questions in. She just talked until one of us interrupted her.

We hire exclusively through a temp agency (long story), so we are unable to check references or do a lot of extensive digging. I’ve already checked LinkedIn for possible connections and asked my network if anyone has worked with her – they haven’t. She was at her previous position for three years, leaving only because she relocated.

My colleague (hesitantly, admittedly) wants to hire her mainly due to the experience, but I have pretty strong reservations. It may have just been nerves that made her so chatty, but it’s not my gut feeling. We have other candidates who were more professional but would require way more training, which I think is a better bet. Any advice?

I answer this question — and three others — over at Inc. today, where I’m revisiting letters that have been buried in the archives here from years ago (and sometimes updating/expanding my answers to them). You can read it here.

Other questions I’m answering there today include:

  • Telling a low-performer we’re not giving her a new project she wants
  • Intern brings slime to work
  • Is it unreasonable to expect an employee to offer to pick up lunch for others when he gets takeout

{ 229 comments… read them below }

  1. dawbs*

    I’m wondering if the slime is truly slime or if it’s putty.
    Lots of folks use them interchangeably but there’s a bit of a difference.

    man, if acuisine of thinking putty works, it’s gonna be a hard one to replicate, sensory wise, with another fidget.

    1. yala*

      I think glue-slime became a Whole Thing for kids a few years back, so it tracks that an intern newly in the workforce may have some. But yeah, there is also the Thinking Putty that I keep finding myself tempted by.

      If she’s playing with it “all day” but it also one of the most productive interns, then it sounds like it really should be a non-issue, so long as it’s not sticky/messy.

        1. Pippa K*

          Came here to recommend Thinking Putty! Comes in amazing shades and there are mini-sized tins that seem perfectly office-appropriate to me.

          1. yala*

            Now I’ve started looking at it and I’m pretty tempted. I have some sand-filled balloons that I squoosh sometimes, but they’re getting a little…leaky.

            1. H2*

              I mean, it’s pretty cheap and it’s not going to hurt you to get some, but it definitely does stick to soft surfaces. My dog had a bald patch for a while as a result, and I had a sweater get ruined.

              Also, I’m not a germophobe, and ymmv, but I think it’s kind of gross. Anything that you touch with your hands a lot that can’t be disinfected, and which traps dust and dirt, is kind of iffy to me. I will say that my experience with it is through my kids when they were pretty small, and I work at a university and I feel like it’s kind of grubby (chalk, dry erase dust, general people funk, etc), but I feel like the commentariat here runs more germophobic than I usually am, so…

            2. waves*

              a “water wiggler toy” (not sure if they have a different name, but plugging that phrase into Amazon returns the thing I’m talking about) might work well for you. I’ve only ever popped them when I’ve squished them *way* too hard. if you’re worried about professional appearances, I’m sure you could make or find a solid-color cover that would disguise it enough to be unremarkable.

    2. Be Gneiss*

      Yes, and also, putty is a **quiet** fidget. I would take 50 people with putty – or even slime – over a single pen-clicker. The more I think about it, putty might be one of the best fidgets in terms of not being disruptive.
      Now, if LW has been picking her kids’ glitter-rainbow-unicorn-cloud-slime out of the carpet and has lost half her tupperware containers to the internet slime-of-the-week craze, then I absolutely empathize, because I share a lot of that frustration. But as fidgets go…putty seems like one of the least disruptive ones out there.

      1. Bunny Girl*

        I have a fidget ring that I liked a lot. I got it in a size too small (I rarely wear rings so I was confused about sizing) so I don’t really wear it but it was pretty, quiet, and not too expensive.

        1. Contracts Killer*

          I was getting on here to comment about fidget rings. Yes! Affordable, fun, quiet, and discreet.

      2. Global Cat Herder*

        Thinking Putty is actually stocked in some of our conference rooms because it’s such an effective QUIET fidget. Doesn’t leave noticeable residue either.

        1. Anon in Aotearoa*

          About that: it doesn’t leave noticeable residue on hard surfaces (stone, wood etc) but it DOES leave stains on many fabrics and it does also stain paper if it’s left on there.

          (My kids use it and I’ve had several “learning opportunities” with them about not leaving it on the couch).

          That said, it’s wonderfully quiet as a fidget toy.

    3. Nessie*

      My first thought was that it is probably putty – I have quite a few co-workers who have Aaron’s Thinking Putty and swear by it to help them focus.

      1. dawbs*

        slime is messy.
        putty isn’t.
        Someone fidgeting with putty is purely a matter of optics.
        Someone playing with slime has a large potential for mess.

    4. I watered your plants while you had covid*

      A bunch of my coworkers have little tins of putty and it clearly works really well as a fidget for them, but I don’t know if you’d mistake it for slime if you saw it.

    1. Mid*

      Agreed! And I like that a lot of the advice is not just to say something isn’t okay in an office, but has the LWs challenge themselves to think of why it isn’t okay. Slime/putty/fidgets might be unusual or new to your office, but that doesn’t mean they’re inherently wrong. I really appreciate the nuance Alison has in general, but especially on topics like this.

    2. Irish Teacher*

      Also agreed. As somebody who is a “huge fidget,” being able to do so makes things so much easier.

      1. Ann Nonymous*

        But what if someone’s fidgeting – in a meeting or other non-private setting – is a huge distraction for others?

        1. Lenora Rose*

          Then they may need to find a different fidget. Many fidgets are discreet and there’s usually a way to find something that doesn’t bother most other people.

          If *any* fidgeting *at all* distracts someone, that starts edging into the territory where the fidgeter isn’t the one who is at issue. Because even people without things like ADHD fidget either in general or as a stimulation/focus tactic, or move, or cough, or click pens, or doodle. (I know of people – neurotypical people – who knit during meetings.) Human beings aren’t generally still creatures.

          1. allathian*

            Yes, one of my coworkers always knits in meetings if she isn’t presenting. She’s either neurotypical or has learned to mask any divergence so well that I can’t tell the difference. I used to doodle in high school rather than taking notes. All the material the teachers presented was in the textbooks, and I learned best by reading even at that age. That’s why I never felt I needed to write it all down again in a notebook, and so I doodled instead. Learning to take notes might’ve been useful for college, but I learned fast when I had to…

            1. MAC*

              I’m a lifelong doodler too and don’t process material presented verbally, I need to read it for myself. I got written up in an evaluation one time because my manager said I appeared to not be paying attention in meetings. I tried to explain that if I looked like I was paying attention, *that’s* when I was completely checked out … if I’m looking right at the speaker, my brain is going a hundred directions, and none of them have anything to do with what’s being said. If my head is down and I’m doodling geometric shapes, I’m taking in wayyyy more information. (This particular conversation was several years before I was diagnosed with ADHD, I now have more support tools, plus I’m not in that mind-numbing job anymore.)

        2. Wisteria*

          Depends on the distraction. If you are talking about merely seeing a co-worker fidgeting and being distracted by the visual, then I recommend to those others that they learn to redirect their attention to the speaker.

          Audible fidgets, like pen clicking, or toys with blinking lights or whatnot are fair to ask the fidgeter to use something else.

        3. MerciMe*

          Look, I’m gonna be honest – people who are neurodivergent often need to fidget to the level of reasonable accommodations. Your choice there isn’t “do they fidget or do they exercise more self-discipline to Just Not.”

          Your choices are a lot more like:
          – Are they able to find a subtle, quiet form of fidgeting that minimizes the disruption?

          – Is putty more disruptive than clicking/spinners/squirming/paper folding/knitting/shuffling business cards/etc?

          – Is it more important for them to give the appearance of listening quietly and attentively, or to actually listen to what is being said, understand it and meaningfully participate in the meeting?

          Basically. employers can’t have their cake and eat it too. If they want to hire people who are innovative thinkers, that often (in my experience) involves a high likelihood of neurodivergence.

          1. Tau*

            Is it more important for them to give the appearance of listening quietly and attentively, or to actually listen to what is being said, understand it and meaningfully participate in the meeting?

            I will never forget the time in school when a classmate did a presentation and the teacher sat next to me to listen. I usually doodled my way through class or built weird pen sculptures, but I knew this would be a very bad look with the teacher right beside me and I’d get told off for not paying attention. So I made certain to keep my hands still and look attentive.

            I did not hear/understand a single word of my classmate’s presentation.

            This was over two decades ago but my brain has not meaningfully changed. You get the Tau that looks NT-style attentive, or you get the Tau that is doodling, playing with a fidget toy or knitting and is actually paying attention. Pick one.

        4. Atalanta0jess*

          Well, that’s why so much of this thread has focused on non-messy, quiet fidgets. People gotta live with each other. But the fidgeter isn’t any more “wrong” than the one who is distracted. The middle ground has to honor both of their needs.

        5. Mid*

          I mean, in a group setting, someone’s behavior is likely always going to be distracting or annoying to some other person, so people do need to give a little bit of room for people to be humans.

          I’ve worked with pen-clickers, throat clear-ers, leg bouncers, aggressively loud typists, and chronic yawners. Those were all deeply distracting and irritating to me, but are also normal human behaviors that I have to deal with in a group setting. I can’t just tell someone to stop yawning, even if it’s distracting me.

          If the fidget is loud or truly disruptive, there’s room to mention it to someone and find alternatives. But people also need to think about why something is a huge distraction to them. Is something like slime truly more disruptive to a meeting than table-shaking leg bounces, or is it the novelty of it? What makes something a huge distraction? (Not expecting you to have a clear answer, this is meant rhetorically. I think “distracting behaviors” falls under the “I know it when I see it” rule.) And if everyone in a meeting is easily distracted by something, maybe the meeting is too boring and could be emails instead.

        6. Clorinda*

          My fidget is my hair, and I know that skeeves people out, so I wear my hair in styles that are braided off my face, and I usually fidget with a small piece of paper towel or napkin that I gradually roll into a tiny, dense pellet.
          Honestly, I think that if people did what they really needed to do, we’d have more fidgeters than non-fidgeters.

          1. Absurda*

            Before fidget toys became popular my fidgets were paperclips and pens. I’d straighten the paperclip then rebend it into different shapes. With the pens, I’d take them apart and put them back together several times. Fidget toys are much less destructive. I have a mini slinky on my desk that works for me.

            1. SimonTheGreyWarden*

              I have a little chainmail guy on my key ring, and I wear a chainmail bracelet. Those are now my fidgets. Prior to them, I was a ‘write down every word being said’ or a ‘write a story in the margin of your notes’ fidgeter.

        7. AnonforThis*

          The person complaining about fidgeters needs to understand that they don’t have an across the board right to control other people’s behaviour. Fidgeters need to ensure that they are not fidgeting in a way that is obviously distracting to the vast majority of people, but it’s not fair to stiffle others.

          I’ve had, and watched my child have in online learning, teachers who take issue with fidgeting and try to make every class member stop. The teachers were the problem, not the students who needed to shift in their seats. Same goes for professional settings.

  2. happily retired*

    Re LW#1: Did you ever get an update? I used to work with someone who had diarrhea of the mouth and it was painful. This person was oblivious to social clues and happily gabbed on about whatever personal topic was on her mind. There was no such thing as a simple yes/no question. Our group’s strategy finally was to say I’m going to ask Joan when the report will be ready. If I’m not back after 30 minutes come tell me I have an urgent phone call so I can break it off.

    1. Hlao-roo*

      There was an update to letter #1. The upshot is that they broadened their search and ended up hiring a different candidate, so no further information on the talkative candidate.

      The slightly extended version is the person they did hire abruptly quit after a few months, right before the LW’s maternity leave started. The company ended up having a more junior worker cover the LW’s role during the leave, and the junior worker did well with support from other people on the team.

      1. Meep*

        When was this created? I ask because I think we hired Chatty Cathy after OP rejected her. lol.

        I know way too much about the sex life of someone who could be my grandmother than I will ever want to know. (I mean good for the elderly, but seriously)

        1. This Old House*

          Impossible. Cathy’s been working at my org for 20 years. Maybe she was looking a few years ago, if OP interviewed her, but she’s still here, and I routinely spend 90 minutes in meetings that were scheduled for 30.

          1. 1-800-BrownCow*

            Does Cathy maybe have a twin because she works for us? The only 3 strategies that kinda help at our company is to 1) Have the person paged that has been tied up with Cathy’s twin, 2) shut an office door in her face (those who have offices and she has been known to knock on the person’s door 20 seconds later) or 3)walk into the bathroom (only works for the male employees and they found they to use the only bathroom in the facility that has an entrance/exit at either end and hope she doesn’t figure out that you’re heading for the other exit and hurry down the hallway to catch you there, other bathroom’s she waits outside the door for the person to finish and come back out).

        2. A lawyer*

          At my first job we had an assistant who I felt bad for because people seemed to have little patience for her. I soon learned why, as the only way to stop her talking was to very bluntly say “OK thanks please leave my office.” Anything subtler than that did not work. And she never seemed to have hurt feelings about it.

    2. Green Goose*

      One of my siblings has the nonstop talking thing which has progressively gotten worse over the years and I’ve always worried that this seeped into her work life as well. Like the OP mentioned, we have to literally interrupt her to get off the phone because she won’t stop talking. She’s completely oblivious to this issue and has had problems at her employment over the years. It’s usually interpersonal issues and the other person is “mean” to her. Since I only ever get her side of the story I don’t really know if the issues are because of her inability to be quiet and not talk over people or if she’s magically able to cut it out at work. I HOPE it’s the latter.

      1. CommanderBanana*

        I have an aunt that has this same issue. She is a very nice woman and I would rather yank off my skin and roll around on an ant hill than spend more than thirty minutes in her company.

    3. Artemesia*

      OMG. never hire someone like this. People tend to show their flaws during the interview process and this is a giant one. The guy we hired who droned on during interviews — but had very hard to get experience we needed, droned on for the years he was with us driving people slowly nuts. When the blather is that over the top — not a little loquacious but someone who takes 30 minutes to 90 with off topic chatter — it is not just nervousness, it is who they are. Don’t hire people like this.

      1. Merle Grey*

        We hired a guy who seemed a little talkative in the interview, but it read as slight nervousness, not a red flag. Once he started working, though, it turned out he could talk the ears off a donkey. What should have tipped us off was that his resume was 5 pages long, and his cover letter (cover novel?) was a more accurate evidence of his verbal excess.

      2. Hired Hacker*

        OP, one trick to stop this kind of behaviour in job interviews is to specify a time limit: “In 5 minutes, tell me about your experience with X”.
        If the candidate wants to squander their 5 minutes by talking about their preferred flavour of taco, that’s up to them, and you can consider they failed the question.

  3. A Pound of Obscure*

    This happened to us recently with an interviewee. Us: “What would your last supervisor say was your biggest weakness?” Candidate: “That I talk too much! I’m a very social person! I love people! Sometimes I don’t pick up on cues that they want to end the conversation and so my supervisor pointed that out! But I’m working on it! So yeah, I’d say that I can be too talkative!” Us: [deer-in-headlights faces]

    1. yala*

      Reminds me of my mom ranting/lecturing on the drive back from a camping trip with my uncle about how some people think they need to always be talking and speak on everything, even when they don’t know what they’re talking about, and they never let anyone else get a word in edgewise, or listen when other people talk, and…

      After awhile, I finally distracted her by pointing out some spoonbills

      1. cleo*

        This made me laugh! And reminded me of childhood trips to visit my grandparents, and the long drive / rant session on the way home as my mother processed visiting her (objectively difficult) parents.

      2. Curmudgeon in California*

        Ugh. That’s like the time my mom slapped me and chewed me out for swearing, saying “Where the f***ing hell did you learn to talk like that? Certainly not from me!” – Yes, the chewing out for swearing included… swearing. It took all my self control not to answer her “From you, of course.” because she never heard her own cussing and would have hit me harder.

        People often see their own problems in others and are angered by them, but never see when they do the same type of stuff.

        1. allathian*

          Ugh, your mom sounds like a piece of work, I’m sorry.

          But it depends on how self-aware a person is. If they’re not particularly self-aware, they can dislike things in others that they do themselves even if they claim not to, and that makes them appear hypocritical, like your mom. People who are generally self-aware often react negatively to things in others that they dislike in themselves, but the difference is that they know they act in a similar way themselves.

      3. Saffy_Taffy*

        @yala On a car trip, my ex offered our friend some high-but-realistic amount of money if Friend could keep his mouth shut for an hour. He couldn’t do it. It was amazing.

        1. Artemesia*

          This brings back the embarrassment a full 50 years ago of a long trip with nice academics giving me a ride in which I NEVER SHUT UP. I would pause so someone else could say something but if they didn’t, then off I went again. It was a difficult time of my life but I just cringe at how awful I was to those poor captive passengers.

    2. L.H. Puttgrass*

      Oh, dear. I worry that this is me sometimes. I never know how much talking is too much in an interview. Sometimes it feels like I stop too early and everyone’s looking at me like, “That’s it?” And then there are other times when I’m explaining something, and I’m still explaining, and I can’t quite tell if everyone is thinking “why are you talking?” but I also haven’t found a good way to wrap up my thoughts without just ending mid-sentence, and…well, you get the idea. Did that answer your question?

      So I was kind of hoping Alison’s answer would be, “Sure, hire her! She’s probably just nervous in the interview and might be fine in the job!”

      But even when I ramble in interviews, it’s on topic. I don’t think I’ve gone into renovations on my house, where I met my spouse, etc. (Although that’s another interview issue—when to move from “small talk” mode to substance).

      1. raktajino*

        I also can super talkative, mostly due to just adhd things and worsened by nerves. But the interviewee sounded way more over the top than either of us do :D It’s my hope that self-awareness helps to tip the scales in my favor?

      2. Hlao-roo*

        Someone in the comments section here once referenced the idea of giving themselves “conversational off-ramps,” which I thought was a brilliant concept. I have also been stuck on the rambling highway before, where I’m talking and talking and why isn’t there an exit already because I know I’ve been talking for too long.

        As part of interview prep, I like to practice the endings of my answers, specifically. Saying things like “in conclusion” and “what I learned from that experience was” so I can signal to the interviewers (and to myself!) that I am wrapping up my answer.

      3. Queen Ruby*

        I’m like that, too! I’ve tried to work with it and have like 2-3 ideas of off-topic things I can pepper into an interview if it seems ok, without it taking up more than a few seconds if the interviewer isn’t interested. I find it can add a bit of a personal touch, assuming the interview has become more of a conversation than a Q&A session.
        One safe topic is dogs! Especially if you have a not-so-common breed, like I do. Weather, traffic – boring, but safe. Maybe a recent vacation, depending on what it was. A long weekend at the shore? Totally ok because everyone around here does it so it’s not fancy or all that interesting. Two weeks on a Mediterranean cruise? Nope.

      4. seeeeeps*

        Honestly, when I’ve been in these rambling situations I think it actually shows good self-awareness to stop yourself, smile, and say, “I’m sorry, I’ve gotten off track. Does that answer your question?” Always with a calm demeanor, not like, “oh jeepers I just screwed that up!!”

      5. 1-800-BrownCow*

        I ramble too when I’m nervous, which is what I was thinking at first while reading this, but then realized that while I might ramble, I do typically stick to topic and do reach an end and give the interviewer time to ask more questions. I can guarantee I’ve never rambled so much someone knows that much detail or information that is not remotely related to the discussion.

  4. Lilo*

    Bring talkative wouldn’t necessarily be so bad it she’d stayed on the subject. But the fact that she went so far out of the norm of interview discussion makes it a big red flag.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      Agreed. Sometimes when I’m nervous I ramble but I typically am rambling about relevant stuff.

    2. Anonym*

      Eh, tripling the length of an interview, even if on topic, would be pretty bad. I can’t imagine that the person who does that has wildly better awareness of time, appropriateness, and their impact on those around them during regular work. And I say this as someone with ADHD and significant time blindness – but I pay attention to the people in front of me for cues as to their interest level, and I assume no one is as interested in the details of whatever’s in my head as I am.

      I had a coworker who was sort of in between, topic wise, sharing a mix of personal and work related stuff. The content didn’t really matter, though. The problem was the unending stream of consciousness pouring out of her. You had to either plan around her (I’ll ask her this question *after* the meeting since I have a free half hour to kill…) or do what I did and just get comfortable interrupting and saying “hey Ricki, sorry I have to run but great to see you!” I did genuinely like her, but she drove a lot of people up a wall and made their jobs harder.

      1. Mallory Janis Ian*

        We invited a new coworker to lunch once, and she had been very talkative in the interview, but it didn’t seem like an abnormal amount at the time. It was noticeably a *lot*, but it was all on topic and highlighted positive things about her work history, so we we didn’t think too much of it. Well, she spent this whole entire lunch giving us what seemed like an hour-long informercial about herself, and at the end we were all just worn out. And the whole time she worked there, she just never, ever shut up, and it was all about herself, herself, herself and how great herself was.

    3. one L lana*

      My rule of thumb is that if something feels off during the job search process, you should assume that thing is not going to be any different if they take the job — and could well be a bigger deal. And then ask yourself if you can live with that.

      1. Captain+dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

        Yes! remember they are putting their best foot forward, showcasing what they believe to be their best behaviour in the interview…

    4. The Rafters*

      Even better was the yapper we once had. He must have name-dropped 30 names in 30 minutes of higher ups in our agency, yet not one of the panel had ever heard of the guy. We thought if he worked closely enough with all of those people that he would feel free to use their names, at least one of us would have heard of him if not met him.

  5. soontoberetired*

    I have worked with people who don’t stop talking – both men and women. For the most part, they were good with their jobs but just couldn’t shut up sometimes. I learned to just say – gotta go now and walk away.

    1. 1-800-BrownCow*

      Wow, you’ve had it easy. The talker at my place has followed people out to their cars and continued talking to them as they are shutting their door, starting the engine and firmly saying they have to leave now. I’m seriously surprised she hasn’t gotten into anyone’s vehicle while they’re trying to leave.

      1. Summer*

        When I left my old job for my current one, I was initially happy to find a place where people were friendly and chatted throughout the day. OldJob was way too quiet and just kinda depressing. However, I quickly learned that I now worked with some of the most talkative people I’ve ever met! Seriously, two in particular can go on and on, telling me various stories about their families and before you know it, 45 minutes have gone by. Being new, I didn’t want to come off as rude but I also didn’t want to appear as a slacker because I actually wanted to work. So I started just working while they were talking even though that didn’t deter them.

        One of the silver linings of the pandemic was that we all started WFH and I couldn’t be happier to be away from the constant chatter. One will still talk my ear off now but it’s much easier to get away because I can just say I need to use the bathroom or something and end the call.

  6. Justme, The OG*

    Employees should not be bringing managers lunch. Like the gifts flow down rule. And especially not the whole office!

    1. Marketing Unicorn Ninja*

      The OP says that she always gives the co-worker money, so it reads differently to me than a gift.

      I.e., ‘Hey, I’m running to Starbucks, does anybody want anything?’ is OK to go up or down the hierarchy; because people are paying their own way.

      But OP thinking her report should offer *every.single.time.* to pick up food for others is bananapants.

      1. Bunny Girl*

        Yeah I honestly stopped at my old job and never started at my new one because it became such a pain! People would hum and ha if they wanted anything, no one ever had cash, and sometimes I didn’t want to come in and distribute stuff before I could enjoy my own lunch.

      2. UKDancer*

        Yes I mean if someone is going to sandwich shop x or cafe y they sometimes ask if anyone wants something and if so you give them the money for it. Most of the time people in my company get their own.

        I have occasionally been at the same cafe as my most junior member of staff and in that case I usually insist on buying her cup of tea as well as mine but that’s not something I ever expect her to reciprocate

      3. Antilles*

        Yeah, I’m not really sure where the issue is here. It’s not like you’re asking the guy to run all over town, it’s adding like, 30 seconds to your trip to the Subway/Chipotle/whatever where he was already going.

        Now, OP expecting it is over the top, because there’s all sorts of reasons why on a given day he might not want to hassle with someone else’s lunch. But it seems perfectly fine for him to offer “hey, going to Arby’s, you want something” and perfectly fine for OP to hand over money and accept.

      4. Koalafied*

        It’s such a weird question overall tbh. When he offers, manager is the only one who ever takes him up on it, and even then only sometimes. How do you get from “my employee occasionally volunteers to do something that it appears very few people are interested in having him do” to “should I make him volunteer it more often?”

    2. CharlieBrown*

      He is offering. But yeah, I was wondering if he thought he was expected to offer. That’s highly problematic.

      On the other hand, I wouldn’t expect my manager to pick something up for me, either. It’s lunch, after all.

    3. PollyQ*

      Or if the boss really wants it to be done, make it part of his paid, on-the-clock work, and then give him a full lunch break after that.

      1. MCMonkeyBean*

        Noooooo, unless they are your assistant this would not be appropriate. Just because someone reports to you does not make it okay to start assigning them those kinds of tasks!!

    4. Dark Macadamia*

      This was my thought, too. And if he’s only ever getting stuff for his boss (even if he offers to others as well) it reinforces a dynamic where he’s kind of just running errands for her. The fact that the LW thinks he should be doing it more often and for everyone really makes me wonder about their overall relationship and how much he feels obligated to offer to pick stuff up for her vs actually wanting to do it as a favor

    5. Bernice Clifton*

      As an admin, I’ve gone to get lunch from time to time for the exec I support couldn’t get away to pick up food – but they always had me get something for myself, too, which is appreciated.

    6. The Rafters*

      I offered to pick up coffee, lunch etc, for now-retired boss on occasion, when his schedule was so packed that he literally had no time to go to the restroom. He was good to all of us, so I didn’t mind at all. Unlike OP, however, he did not expect or demand it. This is bananas.

  7. oranges*

    An hour and a half? When she was supposed to have 30 minutes??

    Oh hell no. I’d have cut bait at 25 minutes, used the last five to wrap up next steps, and booked it to the elevator to make exasperated WTF faces with my colleague on the way to my desk.

    1. Esmeralda*

      As an interviewer, you’ve got to be willing to run the interview. Sure, sometimes you let people keep talking for a bit because you will learn things (not always what the candidate wants you to know)…but that kind of off-topic blather?

      I let interviewees know how much time we have and how many questions we will ask. If they’re gassing on, especially if they’re off topic, I’ll break right in and say, “That’s great! Let’s move on to our next question.” And then ask the next question.

      I don’t have time to hang around an hour after the interview is supposed to be over, nor do the other members of the search committee.

    2. SchuylerSeestra*

      I’m shocked they didn’t cut her off! While I’ve sometimes had problems wrangling verbose candidates, I will 100% shut them down if we are at time. There is absolutely no way I would let someone ramble for a good hour past the scheduled end time.

    3. Curmudgeon in California*

      Sometimes an interview will have a great back-and-forth discussion on topic going, and you will run over.

      But an hour over with off topic personal stuff? Noooooo! Do. Not. want!

  8. EmpressOfDirt*

    LW1, I agree with Allison. I had a similar experience with a longwinded and well qualified candidate. Trust your gut and your colleague’s hesitant feelings, there’s no one with good enough experience to overshadow poor or inconsiderate behavior.

    Our 30 minute interview block started ten minutes late because previous interviews went long (I wonder why). He flew in from out of town for a full day of interviews and touring our office, so I was committed to ending on time to get our schedule back on track. I started our conversation by saying that we would only have 20 minutes to speak because we had another activity scheduled for the top of the hour. Then I asked him to tell me a little about himself as an opener. He filled the 20 minutes with his entire life story and resisted any attempts I made to fast forward to the more relevant points or segue to other questions. He was surprised and disappointed when we hit time and I had to politely cut him off and send him along to his next meeting.

    When my team discussed him, I raised concerns about how our conversation went, but he clicked well with another manager and was such a “perfect” candidate, with experience very well suited to our niche operations (we were kind of a hybrid of two industries that don’t typically overlap, and he had strong experience in both worlds) that I let myself be talked into bringing him on board.

    He was an awful hire. He talked more than he listened and had no respect for other people’s time or deadlines, which were concerns I had after that interview. And he brought out the worst in that manager who he clicked well with. If the two of them were on a project together, which was often, you could be sure it would grow wildly disorganized and well beyond scope and schedule. Every time we had an issue to him, I regretted not trusting my instincts after that interview and sticking to my guns when we were discussing the hire.

    1. nerd*

      “He talked more than he listened and had no respect for other people’s time or deadlines, which were concerns I had after that interview. And he brought out the worst in that manager who he clicked well with. If the two of them were on a project together, which was often, you could be sure it would grow wildly disorganized and well beyond scope and schedule.”

      This this this!

      1. seeeeeps*

        I feel like you hired my ex-boss based on nerd’s callout. We were always terrified to give him any rope in a presentation or meeting because he would fill his time and the next 20 minutes and no one could stop him.

    2. Fear of Name Committment*

      At least you informed your interviewee of time constraints(not fair they lost ten minutes because of earlier time slippage though). Not sure that OP did this? If they did, then yikes. If they didn’t, then this might just be a “bubbly” personality. Folks shouldn’t be penalized because of their personality.

      Also, OP could have certainly cut off this candidate as the employer is always in control of an interview. I wonder why they didn’t. I would feel treated unfairly if I lost out on a job because I talked to much but was never given time parameters, or redirected.

      With respect to fidgeting, I understand it’s beneficial to some for help with focusing. The problem is, their fidgeting can interfere with the focusing of others seeing them fidget! I personally would be so distracted by slime, putty, or whatever. Not sure how to resolve this tension, maybe turning away where you can’t see the fidgeter wouldwork, but that may be perceived as rude.

      1. PollyQ*

        Folks shouldn’t be penalized because of their personality.

        Yes they should, if their personality is a bad fit for the job. And it wasn’t just the length of time she spent talking, it was the fact that she monopolized the discussion and covered personal, irrelevant topics.

        1. Anonym*

          Yep, and it’s not about penalizing anyone! It’s a practical consideration of what will make candidates successful or unsuccessful in a job.

          Imagine someone who’s just really mean and reactive and critical – that’s part of their personality, and would be devastating to team morale. Personality matters in the ways that it’s expressed by behavior. Which I guess is to say that behavior is what matters, and the personality behind it isn’t an excuse for behavior that’s counterproductive or disruptive.

      2. Snow Globe*

        My interpretation is that the interview started late because the candidate’s prior interview went long—likely because the candidate talked too much during that interview.

      3. Esmeralda*

        It sounds like they were short on time because the candidate had been talking too long in the earlier sessions. Even if losing the ten minutes wasn’t fair (?), he was informed and then he wasted the time.

      4. Unaccountably*

        Not letting other people get a word in edgewise isn’t a personality trait, it’s a behavioral habit. You can’t do much about your personality, but you can certainly learn to let other people talk and not monopolize the conversation.

      5. I went to school with only 1 Jennifer*

        The candidate didn’t lose 10 minutes of interview time. They lost 10 minutes of this particular half-hour, but it was just one in a full day of interviews. The candidate caused the running-late.

      6. to varying degrees*

        There’s personality and then there’s just being obnoxious. Extending a 30 minute interview to 90 minutes while filling it with (what sounds like) a majority of non-relative, personal information is the latter. Yes, the LW should have intervened much sooner, but that doesn’t negate the interviewee having some self awareness that one doesn’t need to discuss your eyebrow waxer during a job interview.

      7. Clobberin' Time*

        Folks shouldn’t be penalized because of their personality.

        People shouldn’t be judged on their behavior and actions? You can’t mean that.

      8. EmpressOfDirt*

        Well, there are only so many hours in a day and that time had to be made up somewhere, so I’m not sure how fairness factors into that. My interview was for personality/culture fit, while the other’s were technical, so it made sense for our conversation to be the one cut short. The alternatives would have been less time with his future boss, less time digging into the details of our program, or I guess he could have missed his flight home?

        Employers absolutely hold the power in interviews, but I’ve never had an interview that wasn’t scheduled with both a start and end time. When I’m an interviewee, I’m aware of the length of time scheduled for the interview when giving answers. If you want to give a longwinded answer to a short prompt, I don’t know how much responsibility the interviewer has to cut you off before you hit the time limit for the interview.

        I try to give time cues in an interview if it looks like we’re going to run over or I’ll have to cut things off at the scheduled end time, but if the person I’m interviewing barely pauses to take a breath, it becomes challenging to interject or redirect.

        1. Weaponized Pumpkin*

          This is a departure from the point of this thread, but in my experience the end time has often been unclear for onsite interviews. I was asked to show up for an 11am interview once, which I assumed meant one person and not more than 1 hour. It was 3 people and 3.5 hours. Totally on them, not me. I would have eaten lunch beforehand if I’d known…

          1. EmpressOfDirt*

            Oh geez that’s a nightmare! Especially for that timeframe, that’s basically the entire window for lunch. I definitely would have assumed the same

  9. Not that other person you didn't like*

    Re LW 1: I feel like nervousness can make some people chattier than they might be in interviews (hint, I’m some people) but that just means I occasionally go on too long about WORK stuff. I’ve worked hard to curtail this tendency (which manifests as overenthusiasm – “yay, let me tell you all about this process in detail!”). But all the personal information is really a red flag because it shows a lack of professionalism and discernment.

    If you had an otherwise excellent candidate who struck you as nervous chatty but stuck to work topics, maybe a second interview would help them relax and you would get a better feel for them. But this isn’t that. I never want to know about someone at work waxing anything, ever. Not in the interview, not after a month, not after a year.

      1. Fear of Name Committment*

        Yeah, lots of folks can relate to home renovations, and the candidate may have just been trying (too hard) to seem relatable. But the eyebrow waxing is a bridge too far, unless this is a cosmetics looks company or something.

        If this candidate had a stable three year assignment prior to this interview, I think it’s low stakes to hire them now. If they were that terrible, they never would have lasted in a contract position for so long.

  10. Diana Trout*

    While I don’t think I would ever talk about my waxing jobs – especially in an interview – I can’t say I wouldn’t talk about my favorite taco place (Taco Bamba for those in the Northern VA area) during idle chit chat. But not as part of the actual interview.

    What I will say is that pre-pandemic I pretty much didn’t speak until spoken to. But since the pandemic I have notice I have become embarrassingly chatty. I am sure it is the fact that I live alone and had to work from home, never went out so I didn’t have all that much human interaction. I am hoping I go back to my old non-talkative ways soon. Or at least cut it back a little.

    I interviewed during COVID, so I don’t think I was like this during interviews considering I managed to get a new job.

    1. one L lana*

      When I was hiring for a role on my team in January 2021, I remember thinking the interviews were unusually warm and chatty on both sides (especially mine). I usually find interviews draining and stressful, even as the interviewer, but I realized afterward that this was the first time I’d had a real conversation with someone new in actual months.

  11. CoveredinBees*

    I am sure there are roles in which such talkative people excel but I’m not sure I could have stayed in that interview for so long.

        1. Fear of Name Committment*

          They maintain control of the narrative, so longer winded guests are corralled back into order (non-negotiable time constraints in media though). But folks like Oprah talked a lot about themselves! Being a talk show house requires the ability to go on at length about whatever.

      1. Fear of Name Committment*

        Or podcaster or home shopping network on-air personality. Those folks can rattle on, I turn off the sound because it is so annoying.

        I do think some people who live alone may talk a bit excessively, in the opinion of others, when around people. Some measure of compassion may be in order, especially during pandemic times.

          1. Becca*

            I hope they meant the home shopping network people, because otherwise I don’t know how that works. I guess in theory you could read the transcript but then you don’t need to play the podcast.

    1. seeeeeps*

      Even if you’re supposed to be talkative, if you’re meandering all over the place, no one is having fun (looking at you, podcast hosts).

    2. Mek*

      My husband is kinda like this – he can talk to anyone forever. It’s a large part of why he’s self employed! People who like the style hire him and become regulars, I imagine he also turns off a lot of people who hire someone else. But enough people like him that his business is successful.

  12. Lenora Rose*

    Even in a small office, offering to pick up extra takeout is a bit of a chore. I’m trying to imagine it here, and well, there’s 80+ people in the building, about 22 in the immediate area / overarching department, and within my department, there are 8, who due to coverage needs, are all on different lunch periods from one another. (We did arrange a Christmas group lunch by bringing in someone from out of department to handle coverage for an hour, but it’s that sort of rarity.)

    Folks from all departments sometimes go to pick up lunch from one of our whopping 3
    nearby choices (or driven a bit further), and a couple of departments without our coverage needs have occasionally arranged meals together, but nobody has considered asking around even in their immediate vicinity for takeout extras, and it’s really not wrong.

  13. Liz*

    The talkative interviewee question comes at just the right time, as I had a very similar experience last week. My interviewee’s qualifications were great, but I could barely get a word in edgewise, and I know way more than I ever wanted about her weight struggles, kids’ schoolwork, and more. I appreciate the reassurance that I can pass on this candidate!

      1. raktajino*

        I don’t know about Liz, but some people don’t take hints at ALL and in a work context it can be difficult to figure out the right way to be firm enough to get through to them. Sure, it sounds great to be able to just say “we’re moving on” loudly and crankily enough that the person actually shuts up, but….if you’re not naturally a very pushy person it’s a skill you have to learn.

        1. Liz*

          Thanks, yeah, whatever tactics I normally use did not work on this person, and she managed to weave these off-topics into her answers in a way that was hard to put a hard stop to.

      2. Starbuck*

        Once it gets that bad, there’s not much point anyway in getting to the more relevant questions because you already have what you need to know to disqualify them.

  14. Pool Noodle Barnacle Pen0s*

    That manager who had to ask if it was unreasonable to expect someone to offer to pick up lunch for everyone every time he goes out. WOW. I swear, some people are just incapable of looking at anything from another person’s perspective, even for a second. It’s really sad honestly. Especially when those people are put in positions where they have authority over others.

  15. SheLooksFamiliar*

    Re: bringing back lunch, I used to be the employee the OP wrote about and it sucks.

    I offered to bring back something a couple of times as a favor for someone who could not leave during their regular lunch break, and it got noticed. Pretty soon 10 or 12 people were thrusting money and lunch orders at me while I put on my coat. Our office manager even told me she appreciated that I volunteered to be the Lunch Runner, and was surprised when I told her I did no such thing. This was over 30 years ago so UberEats and DoorDash didn’t exist; I eventually proposed a rotating schedule and, surprise, no one wanted to participate.

    OP, it’s not reasonable to expect this fellow to offer to bring back lunch for you, or anyone else, on the reg. I understand it makes your life easier, but it makes his lunch break a real PITA.

    1. Not your sweetheart*

      Asking someone to do this regularly would only be ok if they were still on the clock (and therefore being paid)

      1. Willow Pillow*

        It would only be okay if they were on the clock *and* it was part of their job duties, especially given how often tasks like this are a gender issue.

    2. Rainy*

      I used to have a job where I couldn’t leave to grab a lunch unless there was coverage, and most of the time there just wasn’t coverage (they also made me clock out for lunch even though I had to work through lunch because coverage), but there was a coworker who didn’t like leftovers, so as long as I liked where she was going, she’d always grab me lunch if I wanted, thank goodness. There was nothing close by, and this was 25 years ago, so definitely no doordash.

      I absolutely gaped when I got to the “shouldn’t he always bring me lunch” bit, jeez. A little self-awareness would be good.

      1. Skytext*

        I’m so sorry Rainy that happened to you, because that is absolutely illegal: they were forcing you to work “off the clock” and they could’ve been fined and forced to pay you back pay. They actually don’t “have” to give you a lunch break, but then they have to pay you. But making you clock out, but then forcing you to continue working? Outrageous!

  16. CharlieBrown*

    The moment we got to house renovations, my thought was a very firm NO.

    Work is about work. If you’re talking non-stop about this in an interview, that’s a big indicator of how you’ll do on your job. Please stay focused.

    1. Fear of Name Committment*

      Maybe the interviewee needed a fidget device to stay focused. I don’t think interviews are predictors of on the job behavior. That’s why so many people can finesse interviews and be terrible after being hired.

      1. CharlieBrown*

        They aren’t always predictors, but often are. I mean, if they aren’t predictors of how well you’ll do on the job, we’d be better just grabbing people off the street and handing them the job. A lot of this depends on how well the interviewer conducts the interview (this is a skill that can be learned), but the talker never really even gave LW the chance.

        If someone shows you who they are, believe them.

        1. one L lana*

          The way I think about this: it’s not uncommon for an issue to crop up on the job that wasn’t apparent in the interview, especially for a person who is good at projecting confidence, guessing what employers want to hear, etc. It is much rarer for an issue that pops up in an interview to not manifest in some way on the job. (And sometimes that’s fine because the issues just don’t matter that much. My best-performing report was one of the worst interviews I’ve done, but oral communication skills are just not crucial to her role.)

  17. Heidi*

    It’s interesting that the employer in Letter 1 put the effort to find references, like they were hoping to discover that the non-stop talking was a one-time thing. You can ask the candidate about it too. “I notice that you provide a lot of detail and go through a lot of different topics when you talk. Is this how your client interactions typically go?” I did this once, and the person laughed and admitted that they’ve always been like this and it drives their family nuts.

      1. Fear of Name Committment*

        But it’s their interview! I just don’t understand why the OP wasn’t assertive enough to shut down an interview going over the time limit.

        1. metadata+minion*

          Not everyone is good at conducting interviews. Which isn’t to say that that isn’t a skill the LW should work on, but for some people, interviewing and hiring is this thing you have to do once or twice a year that’s completely disconnected from your actual normal job. It’s not surprising plenty of people aren’t terribly good at it.

    1. Frankie Bergstein*

      Were they okay with driving their family nuts? Or did they feel like they should make effort to not drive their family nuts?

      I’m so curious how this person felt about their own behavior. I also LOVE how you asked them about it. Brilliant!

    2. Box of Kittens*

      I need some scripts to interrupt my mom, who is exactly like this. Last night I called her to help with some transportation issues she was having and she ended up giving me a 30 minute play by play of her church’s last business meeting.

      1. Fear of Name Committment*

        Be clear about the purpose of your call, and how much time you have. Don’t be afraid to stop her when she starts rambling.

        “Hi Mom! I called to settle your transportation issue, let’s take care of that. I’m happy to talk about what else is going on with you, but we’ll have to discuss it later.”

    3. Hlao-roo*

      It could be the LW was thinking/hoping that the non-stop talking was an interview-nerves thing, and the candidate would not have behaved the same when on the job. Alternately, the LW could have been looking for confirmation that the candidate would continue with the non-stop talking on the job, and used the evidence from the reference checkers to convince everyone else not to hire her.

      1. raktajino*

        LW did say that she had a lot of experience, and others pointed out that the experience is probably even more useful in a short-term contract. So I can see there being extra incentive to be optimistic about the talking.

  18. Frankie Bergstein*

    I had a very very strong negative reaction to the nonstop talker. Here’s what this interview would tell me about this person:

    -they’re not aware of time in situations where there’s reason to be nervous
    -they maybe can’t read social cues
    -they were unclear on why they were there (otherwise they would have let the interviewers ask questions)
    -they’re inefficient
    -they are long-winded (not good for meetings)
    -they lack judgment on what to say and not to say
    -they’re not interested in listening to what others have to say – at least not enough to stop talking (!)

    Tell me if I’m being too harsh! Maybe I have dirty lenses from previous experiences – this is one of my least favorite traits, probably because I have such trouble cutting people off then get mad at them.

    1. CharlieBrown*

      I don’t think you’re being too harsh. That’s my experience with over-talkers as well. What others think does not matter to them. Working with them is like listening to the worst podcast ever.

    2. sb51*

      So, I have NO idea about the person in this interview, and they seem to have taken it to a serious extreme, but as someone who can come off this way to others: my family are all big talkers, and our style of talking is different, and it can be just as frustrating to us to talk to quiet people. The work world has currently decided the quiet, slow, turn-taking method of talking is the “correct one”. Some people are better than others at adapting to their non-preferred style, and also when nervous can find this harder.

      For some good articles on the other style, google “cooperative overlapping conversational style”. There’s especially a failure mode where the person who’s talking is slowly panicking more and more because no one is jumping in, so they think they need to GO HARDER (because that’s what it’d mean in a group of all overtalkers). Basically, Quiet Interviewer is going “OMG I can’t get a word in edgewise and now they’re talking about EYEBROW WAXING WTF” and Talky Interviewee is going “OMG they’re not picking up on all the opportunities to jump in and complete my sentence that I’m giving them, so I guess I have to keep going, uh, where do I go from here, oh no, quickly, I need a topic…eyebrow waxing?”

      It’s like if two people are trying to play a game together, and one is playing golf and the other is playing field hockey; they’re both trying to bat a small ball lying on grass with a long thin object, but one is a fast-paced team sport and one is a very turn-taking thing, and neither person is going to have a good time.

      It does not mean you need to hire Talky Interviewee, but may be useful the next time you’re interacting with someone like this — they aren’t ignoring you, they’re playing the Game of Conversation with a completely incompatible ruleset, and if this is someone you’ll work with or socialize with a lot, you and they should work together to find a way to communicate.

      1. Frankie Bergstein*

        This is insightful and helpful! My extended family is also pretty loud where everyone talks over each other. I like the energy in social situations.

        When you are panicked because no one is picking up the conversation – is it because there might be an awkward pause? Would you feel like a burden if you asked them to talk and said something like, “what about you? Do you have a favorite eyebrow taco joint?” Or would that feel like you were putting them on the spot?

        Regardless, thanks for the search term! Helpful resource. I want to learn more about this (different conversational styles and how frustration for over and undertalkers plays out).

        1. raktajino*

          “pause time” is another term to google to gain more insight into why this might be happening.

          And that’s relevant to an interview too: If the person just as a really short pause time ticker, they’re expecting you to respond to their answer right away. So jumping in and asking the next question might be effective at derailing them. But if they straight up stop listening when they start talking, then you’d have to take a different strategy. And ime, short pause times are more flexible in a work situation because you can adjust them based on meeting/team norms. Ideally people would be more patient and give longer pause times at first and then adjust to what everyone else was doing, but if everyone was patient and does the right thing every time, this column wouldn’t be needed.

        2. sb51*

          Yeah, it’s not just the pause might be awkward, it’s that it feels actively rude to me! Even if I know intellectually it isn’t.

          I mostly can remember to stop and ask people for their thoughts if I’m not super nervous, and the structure of an interview is actually helpful for me and I don’t think I’d do what this person did.

          But it can creep up on me if I’m not paying attention, especially if there’s something else tense about the conversation — reporting on a project that isn’t going well or something, disagreeing strongly with a coworker and also having different styles simultaneously, etc. And extra risk if I wasn’t expecting a conversation to be a difficult one so I didn’t prepare for it.

      2. one L lana*

        Fwiw, I’m an overlapping conversationalist from a family and social circle full of overlapping conversationalists, I definitely tend to ramble on when someone is just letting me talk without jumping in, and this interview would have been a dealbreaker for me. It’s not about communication style — it’s the obliviousness to work norms and boundaries.

      3. Clobberin' Time*

        For some good articles on the other style, google “cooperative overlapping conversational style”.

        No. This wasn’t a freewheeling conversation with ‘quiet people’, this was a JOB INTERVIEW where the interviewee tripled the length of the interview by rambling about irrelevant topics and wouldn’t let the interviewers get a word in edgewise.

        My spouse comes from a family of the Church of Interruption, too. They don’t behave like this.

        1. CharlieBrown*

          Yeah, this.

          I think people are bending over backward to accommodate this person, when they haven’t even been hired yet. It’s a job interview. We’re supposed to be evaluating a candidate, not trying to fix them.

          The work world has currently decided the quiet, slow, turn-taking method of talking is the “correct one”.

          That’s because it works, and works well, for the vast majority of employees in the vast majority of situations, because we’re not having a dinner conversation or playing a game. We have a task to accomplish and a limited amount of time to accomplish it in.

          1. sb51*

            CharlieBrown – what I mean is that it really, really DOESN’T work for some of us, or if it does it takes us a lot of effort to do.

            I can’t actually generally tell people at work that doing the slow turn-taking free-form conversation with someone who’s at the opposite end of the conversational spectrum from me and needs very long pauses means that I literally will not be able to remember anything we decided during that conversation because all I’m doing is going DON’T TALK DON’T TALK in my internal monologue.

            Which actually works fine during an interview, as it happens, because I don’t need to REMEMBER any of what I said later as long as I presented my “best self”, but in a work brainstorming conversation it’s extremely irritating.

        2. sb51*

          I explicitly said they shouldn’t hire Talky Interviewee if they didn’t think they could work with them! I was responding to Frankie’s question as to why people EVER talk like this for any reason other than intentionally trying to snub their conversational partner.

      4. Cringing 24/7*

        This is immensely helpful and insightful – thank you so much for posting it! I don’t think it changes my mind on the interviewee as a candidate, but it might change my view a bit in the way I would see them socially.

        On the candidate level, though, it’s just… not enough to know they have a different communication style. That style is very far outside of business norms, and (rightly or wrongly) they need to be able to adjust appropriately.

      5. allathian*

        Yup, and it’s also somewhat culture-dependent. I’m Finnish, and the culture here is very quiet, in the sense that people are expected to wait their turn and interrupting someone is considered very impolite. Although to be fair, people who just ramble on and never let anyone else get a word in edgewise are also considered impolite. The conversational game requires people to toss the ball to each other.

        Anyway, when I was in college, I went to France as an exchange student, where the conversation is very much cooperative overlapping. I was fluent enough when I went that I never had to resort to English at any time, even if my accent made it obvious that I’d learned French as a teenager/adult. But I didn’t feel truly accepted until I learned to interrupt my French coursemates to show that I was listening attentively to what they were saying. Not easy when you’re neither speaking your primary language(s) nor using the conversational style you’ve grown up with. But it paid off in a big way, because while most of the exchange students hung out with each other and spoke French with other foreigners, most of my friends were French, so my French improved even more than theirs did. At the end of my 6-month stay, my internal monologue was in French, except when I called my mom once a week.

    3. Fear of Name Committment*

      I think you are being too harsh. See, I have no trouble cutting people off, so I could judge you harshly for having a problem doing that.

      People who talk a lot generally know that they do, as many have told them. It is NOT TRUE that they don’t care what others think. They often cringe at themselves after situations like this interview. Like many bad habits, it’s not a simple matter to change behavior.

      1. Karah*

        I disagree that talkers generally know that they’re talking too much. It’s admittedly anecdotal and individual, but I find people who talk too much are ignorant of it and don’t notice how much it turns people off.

        I once timed a colleague telling our grandboss the same three sentences for twelve minutes, and the only reason it wasn’t longer was because that was when I started the timer. Our grandboss is and was very good about stopping, uh, monologues, but every time he’d stop my colleague’s speech the colleague would respond exactly where he left off.

        1. Wisteria*

          “but every time he’d stop my colleague’s speech the colleague would respond exactly where he left off.”

          Which is a technique for effectively responding to interruptions. I wonder what your colleague would say if they were asked to describe these interactions.

        2. Dust Bunny*

          I have never known anyone who talked too much who had any serious awareness that they talked too much. I’ve heard a few of them say, “Oh, I talk too much,” in the tone that means they’ve been told by others that they talk too much but disagree or haven’t internalized it, but if they believed it, they’d put the brakes on.

      2. Frankie Bergstein*

        Fair! I’m working on assertiveness vs. politeness :) It feels rude to interrupt people, which is why I have trouble cutting people off. But again – resentment is worse.

        Working on it :) as you said above, it’s not a simple matter to change behavior.

    4. Irish Teacher*

      Honestly, some of those possibilities sounds like things that can be indications of various forms of neurodivergence, for example having difficulty reading social cues or not being aware of time or lacking judgement on what to say and what not. I realise those things can still be problematic in some jobs, but not in all and I think they are things that are likely to disadvantage people far more than they should as they are more likely to be a problem in an interview than in the job.

      To me, a non-stop talker, especially in an interview would probably indicate nervousness or having received poor advice about interviews or far less likely, the possibility of some form of neurodivergence.

      1. Dust Bunny*

        (Neurodivergent here.) . . . but that doesn’t make them good candidates for a job. If their unawareness or inability to rein it in stresses out, overwhelms, or bogs down their coworkers, they’re still not great fits for the job, even if they have a reason. Other people matter here, too.

        I was a, not this bad but still, overtalker out of anxiety when I was younger, but I finally realized I was boring people and making everything weird and learned to create stops. I’m still not always that great at reading cues but I’m a lot better at sort of measuring sentences and stopping. If people want to know more, they’ll ask.

      2. Eldritch Office Worker*

        I agree. A job interview is a high pressure setting with a lot of expected social norms – people who are not naturally inclined to those things may practice for a job interview, but the situation may still set them towards their default. Or the opposite – I’m bad at time so in a job interview I may become SO FOCUSED on trying to manage the time that it is an active distraction from interviewing well. And I certainly don’t want to disclose my ADHD at that stage as an explanation.

        When a list of undesireable qualities becomes a list of common disability qualities, that’s usually a sign to step back and reassess.

        1. Not A Raccoon Keeper*

          I also focus on time during interviews – one reason I have loved pandemic Zoom interviews is that it’s so easy to see the time, and to evaluate whether I need to shut my trap yet! It’s so mucch less obvious than checking your watch in person.

  19. bennie*

    i’m the slime person in my office! i play with crazy aaron’s thinking putty during informal meetings among my immediate team. i pick my nails and stuff (not ADD, just a bad habit) so giving me a “toy” of some sort really helps (i also play with two pins that were given to all staff that sit on my desk). i try to do it in my hands under my desk so it doesn’t weird people out but haven’t had any comments about it so far. i’d let it go, if i were you, unless its a more formal office

  20. Richard Hershberger*

    The only reason to hire talkative candidate is that the position is temporary. It could be that having someone who can hit the ground running, providing effective coverage over the entire leave period, outweighs her never shutting up. Maybe.

    Coming at it from the other extreme, I have several family members who are academics. I had an interesting discussion with one of them about departmental tenure votes. My relative observed that, in addition to all the obvious considerations about the quality of the candidate’s research and teaching, the vote also asks the question “Do you want to spend the rest of your professional life with this person?” I can see Chatty Cathy being refused tenure no matter how good her work, just based on the other faculty imagining her in every single departmental meeting for the next thirty years.

    But for a few months? Harder to say.

    1. Gary Patterson's Cat*

      It is a good point. If this is the most qualified candidate you’ve had for a temp role, it might be ok for a while. I’m assuming here that the job is pretty well focused as it’s to fill in.

    2. Mallory Janis Ian*

      That sounds like a case where the immediate colleagues might vote to deny tenure, but their decision might be overruled at the upper university level. I’ve seen that happen with a couple of faculty going up for tenure: there was strife or tension between them and much of the tenured faculty in the department, and the faculty voted to deny tenure (indicating that the research lacked strengths in several areas), but the vote of the tenure committee was overturned by the university review board.

    3. MCMonkeyBean*

      I was surprised I wasn’t seeing that point made here more often! For a long-term role, someone you like more overall but needs more training is probably the right call. And they might still be the right call in this situation as well, but I think it’s definitely worth more discussion about how much time that training would take vs how long they would be around and when the maternity leave starts.

  21. Queen Ruby*

    LW #1, I totally understand your reservations, though I empathize with the talker. I can be like that, but I am totally aware I do it, and look for quick ways to shut up when I start to get the feeling it’s past time to do so. Which makes me pretty awkward sometimes!
    But I think there’s another point to consider. The position is covering your maternity leave, so it’s temporary, and you won’t be stuck with her long-term. Having strong experience may be more important in this situation, since it would require less training and provide someone more capable of hitting the ground running.

  22. learnedthehardway*

    OP#1 – I would continue to look for other candidates. Keep this one in your back pocket, but the communications / interpersonal skills problem is one that is a real issue. Sometimes, people get nervous and can be coached, but this seems beyond that level of “minor issue we can work on” and into the “lacks judgment about what to share /not share”, in addition to an inability to listen and pay attention to very basic cues in a situation. (I mean, it’s an interview – if nobody has a chance to ask questions of the candidate, that defeats the purpose.)

  23. Purple Cat*

    LW1 reminded me of my experience interviewing a Temp to cover a maternity leave. They definitely delved into inappropriate topics in the interview, but their skills were on point. Since this was a limited time commitment (3 months in the US) I was willing to take the chance. She worked out well for her temp role and ended up working with us full-time for two years after that but ultimately the concerning parts of her personality won out and she didn’t last longer.

    So, ultimately, if it’s a short-term hire where training time is limited, sometimes you have to accept the less than stellar options.

  24. Aggretsuko*

    I love Zoom meetings because my fidgeting is now hidden behind the desk. I was forced to sit utterly still and stare at everyone IRL and of COURSE I was bored and fell asleep/felt tired every dang time.

    1. Jack Bruce*

      haha yesss! Big reasons why I love not having to be on video either. I can actually fidget and have a drink of water and look away, and I actually focus better on what people are saying. And my energy level is much better at the end of the day.

  25. Risha*

    LW 4 really rubs me the wrong way, just the entitlement of the LW bothers me so much. Why in the world should he be expected to pick up other people’s lunch orders on his own time? He’s not your personal uber eats delivery person. Is there any reason why you and the others can’t get it yourself? Do you ever offer to pick up his lunch? If someone I worked with told me that I am expected to ask others if I can get their lunch for them too on my own time (!!!), I would laugh in their face (or I would tell them my hourly rates, depending on my mood). Idc if it was my boss or not. I know this is an old letter, but if anyone else reading this is expecting nonsense like that, just stop it. Stuff like this annoys me so much.

    I work from home now, but back when I did have to go into an office, I never offered to do things like this at work, not even once. If you give your coworkers an inch, they’ll expect miles and miles, instead of just being happy with the inch. Many people don’t appreciate favors or nice gestures, they act like you’re obligated to do things for them. I would either just punch out for lunch without a word to anyone, or I would tell people I’m going to lunch then just go and ignore all the “where are you going”, “can you pick me up something”.

    1. one L lana*

      I had to tell my husband a couple of months ago, “Hey, if we’re both working from home and you go out for lunch, can you make sure if you ask if I want anything?” I usually reheat something (I like leftovers, he doesn’t) but every so often it would be convenient for him to grab something.

      But that is literally my (lovely but occasionally oblivious) husband. Who shares a bank account with me. That expectation of a normal coworker in a normal office environment is wildly entitled.

      1. I would prefer not to*

        Yes, totally. My fiancee and I do this too when both home working, and even then, we are asking the other one to do us a favour. It is always, always OK for either of us to say “not today, I’m planning to take the longer walk home and don’t want to carry two iced coffees” or whatever.

    2. Katie*

      I have organized a few team lunches where we are ordering from a specific restaurant. I was reimbursed but the hassle of it all was too much. I ended it when they stated wanting to order off menu. I don’t think people realize all the extra work involved in getting other people food.

  26. Chattybutnottoomuch*

    I have a lot of experience with nonstop talkers, both personally and professionally. I am pretty darn outgoing but that kind of verbal tidal wave is a big red flag IMO. If they are talking that much, they seem to be unable to pause to listen, which means they have trouble absorbing the needs of the listener–which is a big deal in regards to projects, etc.

  27. An Australian In London (currently in Australia)*

    Re. OP1: I know this is an old letter, and you’re not reading this, but for anyone else…

    [deleted: a too-long story about an ex-colleague who also talked way too much]

    The whole point of an interview is to identify the people whose resumes do not disclose how terrible they will be to work with. Never hire anyone unpleasant in an interview; presumably, that’s when they’re on the best behaviour, and it can only be downhill from there.

  28. irene adler*

    I realize that a 30 minute interview extending to 1.5 hours from non-stop talk is excessive, but some people do experience “verbal diarrhea” when they are nervous. And a job interview can make one nervous. Really nervous. It happens to me at times.

    Hope interviewers factor that aspect in when they assess a candidate.

  29. Fear of Name Committment*

    I find people who don’t talk enough to be problematic also. It’s painful to carry both sides of a conversation. Neither extreme is good.

    1. Dust Bunny*

      Yeah, but that’s less of a problem at work where your primary function isn’t to socialize. Coworkers who can’t stop socializing or who can’t get to the point are generally a much bigger problem than coworkers who are very quiet.

        1. Dust Bunny*

          But being at work pretty much by definition eliminates a lot of (not all of, but a lot of) socializing, which should automatically cut down on the amount of talking. If the person is still overtalking they’re either socializing too much or their work blabber has expanded to fill the void. It doesn’t excuse them from being more concise.

  30. Miss Suzie*

    #1 If you are getting people from a temp agency, you are not committing to them for any length of time besides right now. So you may as well try this person out.

  31. Captain+dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

    OP2 (low performer) – I expect she realises she isn’t performing well (despite the seeming lack of directness from the OP – generally people who aren’t doing well at their job tend to know it) and thinks that a pivot to the New Thing is something she’s more likely to succeed at, even be an expert (trainer) in the New Thing.

    I’ve never quite known what the “proper” approach is in such a situation. On the one hand, if someone is underperforming I don’t really want to reward them with more interesting projects. On the other hand though, is it a disservice to the employee (and the company) not to take the option of moving them to something they’d be better at?

    (I’ve seen it play out that people gradually shift things out of their workload that they don’t like or aren’t good at, and work on something different instead. Then of course they are good at “their job”, because they cherry picked what their job included! That feels like cheating your way into good performance though.)

    1. Dust Bunny*

      I think this kind of depends on what they’re bad at and in what ways they’re bad at it. If they’re bad a things that are basic to and generalized across most jobs, pivoting to a new position might not help.

    2. Annony*

      I was wondering something similar. Instead of focusing just on how she is doing in her current role, it may be worth considering if she seems capable to eventually transitioning to a trainer role. Not this particular role, since the OP didn’t feel confident in her representing the company yet, but it would be worth considering if they can transfer her to another role that could eventually lead to the role she wants. It could potentially solve the problem. If the answer is no, then she should be told that she won’t become a trainer at this company which could prompt her to start job searching. It seems like having an honest conversation about her current job performance and the potential to reach her career goals at this company would be much more productive than telling her that they haven’t made the decision yet.

  32. Herber*

    I hired a person who talked non stop and I do mean non stop. I didn’t know this until she was hired. It was unbearable!!! I tried lots of different things including several direct conversations. She was aware of it but for whatever reason could not stop. Her position ended up being eliminated.

    1. CommanderBanana*

      Years ago I worked at a very, very small jewelry boutique (as in, one small narrow room) and the owner hired a woman who could. not. stop. talking. If she was breathing, she was talking. Every person who had to work a shift with her told the owner they would quit rather than be trapped with her again.

      I don’t know what actually happened – I was told she decided to quit because the job was ‘too much’ for her, but I suppose the owner could have asked her to leave – but I only worked with her once or twice and it was like being tortured.

  33. The Coolest Clown Around*

    I’d be really interested to hear people’s recommendations for appropriate fidgeting (or managing not to fidget) in meetings. I have ADHD and I often crochet in meetings with just my immediate team, but it would be out of sync to do it outside of that context. Sometimes in external meetings I’ll do long multiplication by hand, but recently that backfired when someone next to me got so curious about it they stopped the meeting to ask what I was doing. if anyone has a solution that’s worked for them I’d love to hear it.

    1. Wisteria*

      I’m a doodler. I have seen other doodlers, and so far, no one has ever stopped a meeting to ask someone what they were doodling. O.o

    2. I went to school with only 1 Jennifer*

      I just take notes. Or don’t take them, but continue to use my pen and paper and make some amazing geometric doodles.
      I have also knitted in team meetings, but again, only with people I work directly with.
      My wife tells me that I fidget like crazy on the couch … except when I’m knitting.

    3. Not A Raccoon Keeper*

      I’ll also take notes, even if there is a dedicated note taker for the meeting – it helps me keep my brain in the meeting. If I can get away with doodling, I will. In online meetings where I need to keep my face looking at the screen but my brain only half on, I’ll browse real estate in my VVHCOL city and try not to cry.
      In in person meetings where I can’t get away with doodling, I’ll just rotate my chair 15 degrees in each direction until I realize that I’m doing it again, and then spend the rest of the time trying to force myself not to rotate my damn chair anymore.

      1. The New Wanderer*

        Two decades ago I had a supervisor once who was the first person I ever noticed swivel in his chair throughout meetings. I picked up the habit very slightly after that but now that I work from home and video is mostly off no one can see.

        Taking notes is probably the most useful thing but I fall out of the habit pretty quickly. I knit if I don’t need to use the keyboard and play phone solitaire if I need to be able to put it down quickly. I’ve also done adult coloring book pages. Ideally I could use my walking treadmill setup more, that works great for sitting in on hour long presentations.

  34. Emily R*

    As someone who has a VERY chatty co-worker, please do not hire them. I am talkative. This person gets nothing done because of it.

  35. Who Plays Backgammon?*

    Nothing, but NOTHING drives me crazier, especially at work, than somebody who Never. Shuts. Up. Don’t hire somebody like that. They’ll waste a lot of people’s staff time. They’re not easy to just tune out.

    As for the lunch pickup, I’m shocked somebody would even ask that in this day and age. If somebody offers to pick up lunch for you from wherever they’re going, they are doing you a favor–THAT time. It’s astonishing that some bosses still don’t get that lunch time is unpaid personal time.

  36. Maree*

    that’s really rude!
    I read it, thought it was interesting, and agreed with the poster.

    Worth examining some of the racial stuff behind these styles as well. (in general, not in relation to this particular letter).

  37. Won't Get Fooled Again. Maybe.*

    Manager, why don’t you offer to be the lunch runner? Kinda selfish, don’t ya think?

  38. Rosacolleti*

    I’d second interview them and state this concern at the outset- then see how they take that on board in their conduct throughout the interview. Lots of people are terribly nervous or just interview badly.

    Then conduct thorough reference checking, asking about this directly. Using an agency shouldn’t affect this – I do it all the time while using agencies.

  39. toolittletoolate*

    I coach a woman who has been laid off from several jobs for what I am convinced is her stream of consciousness approach to communication. If she thinks it, she says it, and a simple question like “where is the Smith file” is answered with “weeellll…let me see, I got on the bus at
    7 this morning, and when I came in I put my coat on the chair, and then I……..” for several minutes before answering the question “it’s on my desk.”

    Despite very direct feedback, she seems unable to modify this type of communication. She doesn’t get defensive about the feedback, but she keeps doing the behavior. I’m starting to wonder if it’s some type of organic brain issue about an inability to retrieve the requested information without sorting through the context around it.

  40. Jeffrey A.*

    Trust your gut and do not hire the excessive talker!

    We had this same situation at my previous employer, and we went through with the hire despite my reservations (I was actually given the option to veto the decision to hire her, and I didn’t do it…HUGE REGRET).

    She was a nightmare. Complete and total distraction, impossible to give guidance/direction to, people began to actively avoid her. Total. Nightmare.

    Trust your gut. This applicant is giving you every indication they have terrible judgment and a lack of situational awareness.

    1. Jeffrey A.*

      This co-worker was so bad, when we (briefly) had to share a small office I started wearing headphones thinking that it would end her constant interruptions and conversations. Oh boy was I mistaken. She would just try to get my attention and then when I removed an earbud to acknowledge her, she’d launch into whatever inane topic was on her mind.

      It got so bad that I would – as she was in the middle of talking – put my earbud back in and turn my back to her to refocus on my workstation. Didn’t deter her. I’d hear her over my music, still having trying to talk to me, with my back turned to her and earbuds in.

      I still cringe thinking about her.

  41. 1idea*

    I once hired a very talkative candidate. I had reservations about that, but she was an amazing employee. I did have to let her know to limit social and even excessive work-related conversations as we were a high-volume department, but we had a good relationship and she was a good sport, so it worked out for us and they promoted her when I left. 9.5/10 would hire again.

  42. Good Wilhelmina Hunting*

    Interesting that the question of whether not to hire an over-talker has even been in doubt. There comes across a strong sense from the LW that she shouldn’t allow this trait to count too much against the candidate. Why? If the person was on the opposite end of the talkativity spectrum, this wouldn’t even be in a letter, because the LW wouldn’t be in any doubt. Ask my very young non-confident self how I know.

  43. SpaceySteph*

    Once I was coordinator for a set of large meeting where, because many people had traveled (so couldnt brown bag it) and because of time constraints against taking a long lunch break, we planned to have people submit online orders for lunch from X or Y place and sent a junior staffer to do pickup. (yes Junior was on the clock for this). The places were selected for co-location, food variety, and advertised at the beginning of the day with a stated deadline to order.

    Well the first time we did it, a bunch of people ordered drinks and it overwhelmed our poor junior staffer who ran out of places to put fast food cups in his car and had to gingerly balance them in those cardboard containers and try not to spill around corners, etc. For the rest of the meetings we had a NO DRINKS rule. We also discouraged soups.

    Anyways, carrying more than just your meal is a hassle. Especially if someone is ordering a drink or soup or a lunch with multiple parts, has to pay separately and manage change, etc. It’s nice that this employee ever offers to incur the hassles, and I honestly think manager should limit how often she takes him up on it.. and when she does, she should definitely skip the drink!

  44. Deeder*

    #4. I’ll start off by saying I’m neurodivergent, so I’m not the most personable person at my work. In fact, I take my lunch breaks a little earlier so that I can eat and read in peace, before everyone else comes in and turns on the TV or tries to strike up a conversation.
    Sometimes I’ll run out to get some fast food, and almost every time I have 1 or 2 of the same people telling me that I should have asked them if they’d wanted something as well. It annoys me because I don’t want to have to deal with collecting money, taking longer in the drivethru, and dealing with writing down what people want.
    The last time someone said something I responded, “I’m not Doordash, thanks.”

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