Here are 3 things you can do if your mind goes blank
You’ve been invited to attend a job interview and you’ve prepared for the common questions, and you have a few specific examples ready to talk through. However, there’s one question you’re asked during an interview that you cannot think of an answer. Your mind goes blank! So, what do you do if your mind goes blank in a job interview?
What tends to happen when a candidate goes blank, they’ll keep focusing on going blank and this is less than helpful. They may even let it affect the rest of the interview. This blog aims to give you some strategies to help you manage the situation effectively.
Firstly, stay calm and relaxed as much as you can during a job interview. Going blank during a job interview happens to the best of us and it’s really nothing to get stressed about. Getting stressed will only make the situation more uncomfortable for you.
Recruiters are used to dealing with lots of different scenarios during an interview and the good recruiters will do their best to put you at ease and get the best out of you. Recruiters know that you’ll feel under pressure because it’s an interview and they won’t get the best out of you if there’s an unnecessary amount of pressure.
What to do if your mind goes blank in a job interview
#1. Ask the recruiter to repeat the question
This is a great strategy for two reasons. Firstly, it ‘buys’ you some extra time to think when your mind goes blank and we’ll come back to this point later. And, secondly, recruiters and hiring managers tend to add a little more detail to the original question. There are very few good recruiters that will just simply repeat the same question.
#2. Ask for time to think
It’s always a good idea to let the recruiter know you are considering the question carefully and want to think of the most appropriate answer. The alternative is to sit in silence and this can feel awkward for you as the candidate and maybe the recruiter.
What tends to happen when a candidate goes blank in a job interview, they are just thinking about the issue itself – “I can’t think of an answer” or “I’ve ruined my chances now”. These negative thoughts won’t help you to stay calm, think logically, and think of an example. So, this situation tends to affect the remainder of the interview and it really doesn’t have to.
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#3. Ask if you can come back to this question later
As a last resort, if you really cannot think of a decent example or answer, then ask the recruiter if you can come back to this question later. Then try to put that question aside and don’t let it impact the rest of your interview. The way you deal with this minor setback will add evidence about your character, so be sure to remain positive throughout.
Recruiters will come back to the question at the end of the interview and as the conversation continues to flow, you may think of an answer. Again, this strategy takes the pressure off and it also ‘buys’ you some extra time.
How to use the extra thinking time
So, you’ve ‘bought’ yourself a little extra thinking time, and you’re not sure how to use that time. Instead of sitting there worrying and fretting about not being able to think of an example, you need to focus your mind on some memory joggers. This is why it’s so important to remain calm and start thinking of people and events from your current or past jobs.
Here are some suggestions to help you think of an appropriate and relevant answer:
Consider the people you’ve worked with:
- Clients or customers
- Current or previous managers
- Colleagues, current or ex-colleagues
- Teams (IT, security, procurement, supply chain, HR, etc.)
- Suppliers or contractors
Consider the nature of your job:
- Objectives (think about your appraisals and setting annual objectives)
- Tasks and duties (daily, weekly, monthly)
- Projects (Lead or member of the team)
If you still cannot think of an example or answer to the question, then just move on quickly. It really isn’t the end of the world. If the hiring manager has gathered lots of information already and you feel there’s been rapport then not answering one question shouldn’t impact the final decision. So, that’s why it’s really important to not let this one question negatively affect your performance by continuing to think about it.
Are you 50 plus and considering a career change? Here’s an article you may find interesting: Important things to consider when changing your career in your 50s.