The Power of the Pause for Judicial and Silk Interviews

Whether you’re a leading junior being interviewed for silk or silk being interviewed for the High Court bench, most interviewees invariably speak faster during an important interview. This is often a consequence of the pressure they experience. This tendency to race ahead has the following negative consequences:

  • Answers are fired off without sufficient thought, almost like a reflex.
  • The subtle point of the question is missed because the interviewee incorrectly anticipated where the questioner was going and formulated their answer before the interviewer stopped speaking. (Something I am frequently guilty of at home); and
  • Speaking fast does not sit well with leadership or judicial presence.

I have had the privilege of working with and interviewing several US Navy SEAL’s. They train and fight by the philosophy ‘Slow is smooth, smooth is fast’. Useful and relevant. Although SEAL’s fire bullets and interviewees fire off answers, the need for target accuracy applies to both.

If you want to increase the quality of your answers and the positive impact of your presence apply the following two rules:

  1. For every question you are asked; no matter how straightforward it seems, allow a minimum of 2 seconds before answering.
  2. For the trickier questions (normally the exception) allow yourself anything up to a minute before giving your considered response. You are unlikely to need the full minute as the moment you remove the pressure to instantly answer, clarity of mind returns. If you’re an advocate and you’re asked an unexpected and difficulty question by a judge you will always take time to reflect before giving your considered response.

When done intentionally, pausing is power.