Have you ever been in a conversation with someone who responds to you with one word answers? The person gives you just enough to perhaps answer you, but little if anything more. Think about how that makes you feel.
Or what about the person who answers your questions in a full sentences, but offers little more than the bare minimum response to what you’ve asked. Feel similar?
My guess is that it may leave you, like it leaves me — feeling just a bit uncomfortable. You are not ready to form a negative opinion of the person because nothing really stands out as bad. But you certainly wouldn’t be leaning towards inviting this person out for coffee or a beer.
You are not quite comfortable enough. And the reason is because you don’t really know who this person is. Having responded with the minimum required, s/he gave very little of themselves. Staying protected can be a very good strategy in threatening situations but it certainly is not an effective one for connecting with people or interviewing for jobs.
The whole purpose of a job interview is to get a sense of who someone is. The interviewer is seeking to assess skills, depth of knowledge and actual experience, but that is the basic assessment. A large part of the evaluation process is to understand how the interviewee thinks, his or her work style, personality characteristics and whether this person will fit in with existing staff.
The practice of giving stock, safe, answers does little to advance one’s chances of receiving an offer.
Sometimes the interviewer senses (correctly or not) that there is something deliberately being held back or avoided. And rather than be surprised about something that did not surface on the interview, s/he passes on the candidate.
Hiring Managers want to be comfortable that the people they bring on board will communicate well once part of their team. Most managers do not want to have to “read” what is going on inside the heads of their staff. Not only does this add a burden to their task, but it foreshadows less than effective communication with stakeholders; internal business partners, colleagues, clients and leadership.
I have seen very qualified candidates miss out on opportunities because they never removed their “interviewing mask.”