During an interview taken by me an interviewee was trying to defend himself either with wrong answers or diverting me to another topics.

In such situation, how to put my concern for being specific and correct in English to such people.

Each version – polite, hard – most welcome.

  • 1
    I think the question is about English, and the context is a hiring interview. Users are supposed to ask questions about actual problems they have faced; this sort of question falls quite nicely under that umbrella. It might be a bit open-ended, but I have no problem with the "hiring process" backdrop. – J.R. Dec 27 '13 at 11:15
  • It would be better to give example of "wrong answers" though. Wrong answers to competence questions shouldn't be met with request to answer correctly, but with declining the job application for failing the competence test, simple. If the hire fails to answer basic questions of general nature, that doesn't bode too well either. – SF. Dec 27 '13 at 21:28

These are some polite ways you could ask the interviewee to do what you want:

Please stay on topic.
Please answer the question I gave you.
You're deviating from the question.
You're straying from the main point – let's get back to the question.
We're getting sidetracked here, can we get back to the question I asked originally?
That's a nice aside, but how does all that relate to my question?

If you want a more hardline response that will make the interviewee more uncomfortable, you might try something like one of these:

That's all well and good, but let me repeat the question, and let's see if you can answer it this time.

That's amazing. I just listened to you ramble on for five minutes and I don't think you came close to answering my question. Are you even listening to me?

Words I've put in bold are key words and phrases that might help you addess the situation in very natural-sounding English. The phrases I've put in italics denote a measure of sarcasm, which is why I've put them in the second set of responses.

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Just say it straight in his face, but stay polite to make yourself look professional.

"Please do not diverge from the question."

"Please answer the question."

"Please answer honestly."

They have to immediately understand the message you are sending, and if they still do not follow, they're out.

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