Interviews usually go well when you are prepared, but there’s also usually a moment where you’re just not sure what to say. What do you do if you get stumped during an interview? These tips will help you discover the fine art of second-guessing with professional style!
#1: Ask for clarification – Employers often word interview questions in odd ways. Sometimes these questions are from a list that is casually generated by human resource departments, while others are purposely general. Most employers, however, are looking for more specific answers than their questions suggest. There are many ways to seek clarification. For example, you can ask for clarification by restating the question the way that you understand it, or by asking for the specific meaning of a particular phrase. Seeking clarification also expresses that you are listening to and considering your answers wisely.
#2: Focus on key words – Interview questions usually have key (or buzz) words that are noticeable, such as teamwork, conflict, time management, goals, etc. By focusing on key words, you become aware of what the interviewer is really asking, rather than the way in which the question is being asked. For general questions that involve key words, any response that addresses the key words will work!
#3: State your thinking process – If you are contemplating several different responses or going through a thought process of a particular response, go ahead and state to the interviewer that’s what you’re doing! In other words, do not keep your potential employer waiting and sitting in uncomfortable silence! Interviewers will be more than happy to give you a few moments to collect your thoughts if you state that’s your intention!
#4: Don’t express confusion or frustration – The worst thing to do if you get stumped in an interview is to say “um” over and over, get shifty-eyed, or start fidgeting. Keep your calm and take the time that you need, but don’t slip and say something silly, confrontational or otherwise unprofessional! Remember, handling stress in an interview is an indicator to the employer that you can also handle stress on the job!
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