I just got off the phone with a candidate for a leadership position at a major research university. I had called to discuss the candidate's background relative to the requirements of the job in anticipation of a formal interview. I began with the usual opening pleasantries -- my name and background, the agenda for the call, an acknowledgment of the common ground between us, and so on. After a minute or two, I asked my customary opening question inviting the candidate to share some of his professional story with me.
Fifty-six minutes later I uttered my next complete sentence.
At least he says that's an extreme example.
Another example he gives (and this one terrifies me because if I had anything bad in my past--which I don't because I've only recently become evil--I would make this mistake)
The candidate was nervous walking in the door. A job he had held a decade before had been difficult and public, and he was concerned that the members would be put off by what they might have learned simply by searching the Web. He walked into the room with his fuse already lit. When the head of the committee welcomed him and asked him to say a few words of introduction, he ignited. Thirty-seven minutes later, he came to the end of his story. The committee members had 10 questions left to ask and 23 minutes left in which to ask them. They had long since lost interest not only in the candidate's narrative but in anything he might have to say. They ended the session 15 minutes early.
The irony? The committee was not even concerned about that old controversy.
So Evil HR Lady's advice of the day is to remember when you interview that you are selling yourself. Don't point out your own flaws and let the interviewer talk. People love to talk about themselves. Save your glowing report about yourself for your mother, and answer the questions asked. No more, no less.