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Maybe it’s because you’re tired, maybe the subject was designed to be particularly challenging, or maybe you’ve just had a terrible case of déjà vu and your mind went vacationing somewhere else, but now you’re in an interview for your dream job and your heart rate is 200 beats per minute. Your palms are starting to sweat, and you can’t find the right words to answer the question. It happens to the best of us, trust us, we’ve been there. We’re here to help. Try following these tips the next time you get stuck on a tough interview question: 

  1. Stay calm – Don’t panic. Try not to fidget with your clothes or shake your leg uncontrollably, it will only draw attention to your nervousness. Breathe; think for a moment if you have to. A pause in the conversation is better than an insincere or haphazard answer. You can even ask the interviewer, “May I  think for a moment? I want to be sure I’m being authentic in my answer”.
  2. Clarify the question – Some interview questions may be tricky on purpose. The interviewer may be trying to weed out candidates who’d blindly answer a question without all the adequate information. Remember that an interview is a two-way conversation, and not a cross-examination. Ask the interviewer to elaborate on the question, and ask for more details to dig deeper into the subject. An easy question to ask is, “Could you please clarify what you mean by __?”
  3. Let the interviewer know your thought process – Sometimes it may be more important to show an interviewer how you think rather than give him or her the correct answer. You may find it productive to discuss the subject with your interviewer, to walk him or her through your thought process.
  4. Be confident but humble – Remember that you’ve been invited for an interview, and therefore presumably have already advanced further than most candidates for the job. You are not there by accident, so be confident. You should be willing to explore the answer thoughtfully while staying humble. There is no shame in admitting you don’t know something.
  5. Send a thank you email – This is the secret weapon. You may incorporate your full answer in the proverbial thank you email within 48 hours of the interview. This will give you the chance to go home, Google, check your references, and articulate your answer on paper. You could begin the email with, “Thank you very much for your time yesterday. It was a pleasure getting to know you and the team. As for the interesting question you posed regarding __, I believe that__”.
  6. Preparation is key – The best way to minimize your chance of getting stumped by a question is to be prepared. Start preparing before the interview, present your best self, do your research, rehearse tough questions. And don’t forget to let us know how you do!

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Who is NEXTAFF? We are locally owned and operated staffing offices devoted to our communities, clients, and candidates throughout the United States. For more job tips and ideas, contact us. We are always hiring, so if you or someone you know is looking for work, check out our job board below and apply today! We are able to service all your staffing agency needs with local staffing offices in Sacramento-CA, Sonoma County-CA, Des Moines-IA, Raleigh-NC, Shawnee-KS, Topeka-KS, Detroit-MI, Kansas City-MO, Gulf Coast-MS, Phoenix-AZ, Miami-FL, Harrisburg-PA, and Jackson-TN.