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Advice / Job Search / Interviewing

According to Your Fellow Muse Readers, This Is Your Biggest Interview Fear

people interviewing
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You know how you have those dreams the night before a big interview about stepping into the office and falling through a giant hole in the floor?

Well, if you haven’t, just know that they can be terrifying. But so can interviews, and we know almost everyone has some fear about how it’ll go (wrong). Some people are afraid of letting a bad comment about a previous boss slip. Some are worried they’ll accidently offend the hiring manager. And some are even scared they’ll trip and fall in front of everyone.

We get it—which is why we came to you to see what your biggest fears are when it comes to this:

Out of 157 people, more than half are most concerned about drawing a blank. Which makes sense—there’s nothing worse than having all the right answers prepared only to forget everything the second the interviewer calls you in.

Well wipe that worry off your plate because we have a few tips to make sure that doesn’t happen.

First, give yourself time to think and process when it happens. It’s not that you have nothing to say, it’s more likely that you were either caught off guard or too nervous to concentrate. These three phrases from Muse writer Kat Boogaard are perfect for delaying your response without letting the hiring manager know you’re struggling.

  1. “Let me think about that and get back to you.”
  2. “Just off the top of my head…”
  3. “Can you elaborate further on…?”

Then, if it’s a question you don’t know how to answer, don’t be afraid to do a bit of thinking out loud. As career development specialist Lily Zhang says, “Remember that half the time, hiring managers are asking tricky questions not to hear you spurt out the right answer immediately, but to get a better sense of how you think through problems.” So just start from where your mind’s at and work through the problem that way.

And if it comes down to you not having any answer at all, it’s OK to be honest. A hiring manager will be more impressed that you’re willing to admit your weaknesses than if you come up with an unconvincing lie or go on and on about nothing. (Plus, you can use that slip-up as an opportunity to send a great follow-up afterwards.)

Finally, take a deep breath and stand tall. This is just one blip in the grand scheme of your job search. And I’d bet that most of the time, the interviewer barely notices your pause.

Being nervous is natural, but there’s always a way to recover after a brain fart. And the best tip of all? Always come prepared so you never have to worry about missing a beat.

(Oh, did you vote for having the right answers? Here are dozens of the most common interview questions you might encounter. Or maybe dressing correctly? Here’s your guide to what to wear for any interview situation. Or how about forgetting someone’s name? These tips might do the trick.)