Job interview brain freeze. We’ve pretty much all had it at some point. You know what I mean … your mind goes blank. Or you’re getting thoughts, but they come out jumbled. Or they don’t come out at all!
But the good news is that a little brain freeze and interview nerves in general doesn’t mean you won’t get the job. Still, you want to do all you can to put your best foot forward. So it’s wise to prepare in advance to help keep those nerves at a minimum!
Why do we get interview brain freeze?
Even if you are feeling pretty good about your job chances, that confidence crushing moment of brain freeze can creep up on you. And the one thing that doesn’t work is getting caught up in the terror that follows. Although I admit that’s easier said than done.
So what’s going on? Well, obviously you want to do well. And interviews can make anyone nervous. But there can also be other things the situation brings up for you:
- Old feelings of not being good enough.
- Times when you froze before and couldn’t pull out of it.
- Worrying that you can’t really do the job — and they’ll see it.
- Feeling you are being watched every second for any flaw. Without remembering they are also spotting the potential good.
- Knowing how much you need a job — and that added pressure can lead to fear taking over.
What you need to remember
- They called you in for a reason.
- Most interviewers are hoping each candidate is the one.
- Nerves are very normal — and taken into account.
- You don’t need to be perfect — whatever that is.
- If the rest goes well, a few moments of being momentarily frozen by nerves can be weighed against the pluses.
- After getting yourself re-centered, you can go back to showing all the ways that you’re a great match for the job — and why you’re someone they’d like to work with.
- No one moment is the end of your chances. In fact, resilience is a trait employers love!
You can always recover from a rough moment.
Employers look for and love resilience
So show them that you have it!
Tips to help minimize brain freeze
Practice is key. And doing your research so you feel comfortable talking about the company — rather than looking like a deer caught in the headlights because you don’t even really understand what they do!
The more you prepare ahead of time, the more at ease you’ll feel. And the easier it will be to recover if you do get a bit of that brain freeze. Here’s a post with some tips to help:
And if this is something that you experience often, you might want to do some things to help in general. Perhaps join a group that gives you practice speaking in public, like Toastmasters. Or maybe your local library or community center can point you to a public speaking class.
Another thing that might help — and can be fun — is taking an improv class. You get a chance to practice thinking on your feet, again within a supportive environment. And you may pick up tips that can even help in interviews and life in general.
And if you do get interview brain freeze…
Many therapists suggest simply recognizing the moment, rather than trying to push it away. Give it a name in your head and say hello — I was expecting you. Just breaking into the fear that is trying to take over can help lessen its power … and let you regain the “lead”.
And just know, if needed, it’s perfectly ok to say you’re a little nervous and ask to start over. Or ask to hear the question again, again explaining nerves with a smile. You might even get an understanding smile back– a good sign about the kind of person interviewing you and maybe even company culture.
More tips to help