4 Ways to Stay Focused During the Interview

August 5th, 2013 | Articles, Interviewing, Job Search | No Comments »

headcaseYou have just stepped into one of the most important interviews of your life and, let’s face it, you are nervous. There are not many people who can stay focused during tense situations, and if you can you might be better suited in a bomb disposal unit instead of a comparatively uneventful office.

But just because you are nervous doesn’t mean that you can’t perform your best in any interview, regardless of what situations might arise. The trick is to stay away from the negative thoughts that cause anxiety and keep your head in the game.

Here are four examples of things that can go wrong at an interview and how you can rebound from them by staying focused on the task at hand.

There is a long pause

You just finished answering a question and are met with silence from the hiring manager. He or she just continues to stare at you.

What you shouldn’t be thinking

That you did anything wrong. Just because the hiring manager is not responding doesn’t mean that you answered the question incorrectly. In fact, many people dig themselves into holes when they break the silence and try to clarify their statements.

What you should do

Just wait patiently until the hiring manager responds or poses another question.

You stumble on your words

The interviewer asks a multifaceted question that is so complex you don’t know where to start. When you begin to answer it you stammer or ramble on about something that does not properly address the question.

What you shouldn’t be thinking

That you blew the question and cannot recover from it.

What you should do

Compose yourself and think. It is perfectly normal to stop, ask for a moment, and think things through before you continue on. The hiring manager will wait. A solid second answer to a question is far better than a single muddled response.

You misspeak

Perhaps you got too nervous and anxiously answered a question incorrectly, or worse yet you let it slip that you did not get along with your previous boss.

What you shouldn’t be thinking

That the interview is over. Don’t get caught up on a single statement, and don’t allow those negative thoughts to cloud the rest of your interview.

What you should do

Do not assume that your answer went over the interviewers head. Apologize and admit that you did not mean what you said. It is okay to walk back your answers and clarify them. No one is perfect.

You don’t know the answer

The interview is moving along just fine until the hiring manager throws out a term you have never heard before or asks a question you don’t even know how to begin to answer.

What you shouldn’t be thinking

I can fake this, they will never know the difference. As long as I am confident and act like I know what I am saying I will be fine.

What you should do

It doesn’t matter how confident you are, interviews are not the time and place to pretend to be an expert. Odds are the interviewer knows far more about the topic than you do. Approach this situation with confidence and honestly tell him or her that you are not familiar with the area but it is something that you are eager to learn in the future.

Just stay calm

It is perfectly normal to hit a roadblock or two during an interview, but as long as you stay calm and focused you shouldn’t have any problems hitting your beats and getting your main points across.

By Kevin Withers

Image courtesy of net_efekt via Flickr