Tips for When You Blank: Test and Interview

Everyone has that moment when they take one look at a test, quiz, or exam, and their mind goes completely blank. The next answer is instantly forgotten. Hell, sometimes  they’ll forget the rest of the exam. Well, fret not, because there are some easy ways to confront that feeling.

  • Elimination. In multiple choice, some answers obviously seem incorrect. So cross them out, and through deduction, it’ll be easier to find the right answer.
  • Look around the area. No, I’m not talking about eyeballing another classmate’s work. That’s cheating, and in college you’ll be kicked out of school for that. I’m talking about relieving stress by looking at things around the classroom, like a clock or a window. Just taking a minute to breathe helps with focusing and making the test easier when you go right back into that.
  • Use your gut. Nobody knows you better than you, and sometimes, when you have no clue, it’s best to take an educated guess and decide what you think is best. It may not pay off 100%, but knowing yourself can go a long way in getting a good grade.

This kind of blanking also occurs during job interviews, and it’s totally normal. It’s important to remember that it’s something everyone goes through. Whenever the boss asks you a question about yourself, your strengths, your weaknesses, or your qualifications, here’s what you’ve got to do.

  • Pad your sentences. It may seem like a strange strategy, but talking for the sake of talking, all the while thinking about what to say during that time can go a long way; it allows no awkward pauses and makes it seem like you have plenty to say, as long as you know what you’re talking about, and it’s not irrelevant information. Be personable. However, it’s important to not go overboard. Finding a good balance of gobbledygook and what you actually want to talk about is necessary for situations like these, as you don’t want to seem completely obvious that you’re stalling.
  • An example from the job. For almost every question asked, there’s the opportunity to add some sort of example to the qualifications or actions of the job you’re interviewing for. If you’re asked what your greatest strengths are, state something generic like “hard-working” and “determined” and take an example of what you have done beforehand, and recall to the best of your ability. For example, if you’re trying to get a customer service job, talk about something you’ve done for your family or your school that has to deal with you working on a fast-paced environment and that you worked really hard at it. It doesn’t even have to be customer service-related. It’s simple, easy, and comes in handy whenever you don’t know the right thing to say.
  • Wing it. Similar to the “use your gut” advice given for test-taking, since nobody knows you better than you, it’s best to go with the best idea that comes from the top of your head and going along with it. More often than not, that little idea can go a long way in showing your qualifications and experience

While these tips aren’t a guaranteed “A” nor a guaranteed job, it’s still really helpful to have these skills in the back of your mind in case your mind completely blanks.

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