You’ve undoubtedly run into these people before. They love to talk. Non-stop and seemingly forever. They talk so much you wonder how they can get air into their lungs. They take a very short conversation and turn it into a version of War and Peace. Written by Russian Leo Tolstoy and published in 1869, it is considered one of the world’s great literary achievements. However, it’s 1225 pages long. That’s one long book!

These people have what I call verbal diarrhea. It’s a slang expression for the person who hogs the conversation and won’t shut up. They want to give you the 1225 page response to every question with a steady barrage of facts, figures and details, most of which are not relevant.

Unfortunately, you’ll run into these types during investigations. The non-stop banter is a strategy designed to overwhelm the investigator with too many facts and details. I’ve experienced this before and it will test your patience. Like Sgt. Joe Friday, you will want to yell at the top of your lungs “Just the facts.” These folks will try to grind you down to the point where you have to tap out like in mixed martial arts or to throw in the towel like boxing. One more word and your head will explode.

Here are some strategies for dealing with the prolific talker.

1. It may be necessary to talk at the same time as the interviewee to take charge.
Begin to speak as the interviewee is finishing a sentence and “clip” off their comments. This should be a tactful interruption and often starts with the person’s name, a compliment or an explanation. This technique is called clipping.

The following “lead-ins” will help you stop a candidate’s answer:

(Name), I appreciate the fact that you are so thorough in responding to my question, but now I need you to talk about _____________________.

(Name), you are certainly giving me a lot of information about __________. However, I need for you to tell me about _______________________.

(Name), if you will, I now want you to target your answer on ____________.

(Name), I apologize if it seems abrupt, but I want to shift our attention to ____________.

When the interviewee stops to listen, the interviewer begins the next question

2. Ask lots of closed questions that require short answers. Be careful not to turn it into a police interrogation.

3.You may have to interrupt and firmly suggesting moving on.

4. Don’t encourage the talker to talk more. Be careful how you phrase and present your questions.

5. Summarize what you have heard.

6. Set a time limit on the meeting. Remind the interviewee you only have so many minutes. Keep them focused on the topic at hand.

7. Point out that the interviewer is talking non-stop. Ask them to be more concise in their answers.

Stay tuned for more blogs on other types of interviewing deceptions.