Have you ever felt that you can’t think of an answer to an interview question quick enough? Have you ever thought when you’ve left an interview that ‘I wish I’d said that?’
You’re not alone. It happens to all of us. Me included on many occasions.
‘How can I think of an answer quickly in interviews?’ is a question I get asked a lot.
We’re faced with a question and suddenly we freeze. What seems so simple to answer becomes the most difficult question on the planet.
Our brain just can’t think quickly enough. We get stressed. We start to ‘um’ and ‘er’. The length of time it takes feels like an eternity.
After the interview we kick ourselves. Of course we knew the answer, but for some reason we just couldn’t when we needed to.
You are not alone in feeling this way. Why does it happen? It comes down to two reasons:
- Nervous and or
One is acceptable (nerves) and the other is not (unprepared).
3 Steps to Thinking Quickly
There are three ways to help yourself:
1. Being Prepared
Many interviewers ask the same questions. By knowing what the most popular questions are, you can prepare your answers, in advance. Once you’ve prepared your answers rehearse them.
A tip that I learnt years ago was to stand in front of a mirror. Look at yourself as you practice them aloud. You will see how you come across (Body Language). And you’ll also hear yourself answering the question. It’s a great way of getting it engrained in your brain.
Then when you’re in an interview, you’ll able to quickly recall the answer to that question. This will reduce the amount of time you need to think.
It will help you come across as being prepared, knowing yourself and being more engaged.
2. Ask for Clarification
Sometimes an Interviewer will ask you a question that you don’t quite understand or expect. If you are in doubt, ask for clarification.
This allows you to have a few moments to think of an answer, if you’ve not prepared for that question.
3. Brain to Paper
Another option is to use paper. The physical act of writing something down can take away the nerves. It helps your brain come up with an answer quicker than if you just think about it. When it happens write down three things (examples, references) that will help you answer the question. I find this approach very useful.
Remember it’s ok to be nervous. Just make sure it’s genuine and not due to being unprepared. You can never be too prepared. The more prepared you are, the better you’ll come across.
Want to learn more about handling Interview nerves? Read my recent article ‘How to Handle Interview Nerves’
QUESTION: What can you do to be better prepared?