What To Do When Your Mind Goes Blank During a Job Interview
It happens to the best of us. You’re ready for your job interview. You’re dressed for the part. Your credentials in your CV are impeccable. The recruiter starts asking questions and you respond perfectly. You’re making a great impression. Then suddenly, a question stumps you. Your mind short-circuits and suddenly…goes…blank!
We’ve all been there. The next time you unexpectedly find yourself in this seemingly awkward situation, here are tips on how to turn this around to your advantage.
1. Stay calm and collect your thoughts
It’s easy to just hit the panic button and ramble on and on just to fill the silence. But the more you do that, the more your answer won’t make sense to the interviewer. Pause, take a breath, clear your mind, and calm yourself. This will help ease your anxiety so you can collect your thoughts, focus on the question, and compose the right response.
2. Clarify the question
Sometimes your mind goes blank because you’re unsure about the question itself. If this ever happens, don’t hesitate to clarify the question with the interviewer. This will give you time to come up with an appropriate answer. At the same time, the interviewer can rephrase the question differently to help you understand the context so you can respond accordingly.
3. Take the time to think about your response
If you’re asked a question and you need time to think about your answer, mention it to the interviewer. If they’re really interested in knowing more about what you can bring to the company, they will give you enough time to respond. It also reflects your commitment to the application process. You are making an effort to devote a little more time with a response that clearly illustrates what they’re looking for.
4. Ask if you can circle back to that question later
If you really can’t come up with an appropriate answer, ask the interviewer if you can give your response later. Perhaps you can mention that you have enquiries for the interviewer and your response to their previous question will depend on the information that the interviewer will provide. Set the question aside for now but remember to come back and answer it later.
5. Draw from what you know
If you’re still drawing up a blank, try to come up with the best answer you can think of based on what you know about the job description then relate it to your skills. Add to that how you can contribute to the organisation with your work experience and your best practices. It gives you the opportunity to highlight your strengths and how you can be an asset to the company.
6. Lighten up the moment
If you’ve established a good rapport with the interviewer and you’re suddenly stumped by one of the questions, try to diffuse the awkward silence with a bit of small talk to lighten the moment. But don’t go off track from the subject matter. Say something that’s still related to the question. You’d be surprised that the answer you’ve been thinking of will manifest itself during these conversations.
7. Be honest
There are instances when the interviewer will ask you about a particular subject and you’ll suddenly freeze because you don’t have any experience on that. Instead, just admit that you’re not familiar with the subject matter then try to redirect the conversation to what you do know in relation to the topic. This informs the interviewer that your skills and core competencies are still valuable contributions to the job requirements. Never lie in your reply by pretending that you’re well-versed about the topic being discussed.
A great interview should sound more like a conversation rather than a rigid interrogation. Try to establish a connection with the interviewer to keep them interested in your message and, more importantly, in what you have to offer. Good luck!
Professional talent sourcing consultancy in Vietnam
As a premium recruitment agency in Ho Chi Minh City, The Talent Consultants would like to share our resources to help candidates prepare themselves for job interviews. Read more about our useful guidelines here. We also have additional tips on how to conduct yourself during virtual interviews for both candidates and managers alike.