Avoid the Ohnosecond to Interview Your Best

The Wiktionary definition for ohnosecond is the fraction of time after someone has made a mistake to realize they have made the mistake. Typically, the ohnosecond is accompanied by a sharp slap to the forehead and a feelings ranging from foolishness to fear.

The ohnosecond is a common human experience. Who among us has not had the experience of thinking to ourselves immediately after leaving a situation ” I should have said this” or “I wish I had not said this” or “I forgot to ask ___”. So where does the ohnosecond come from? It is based on the way our brain functions. The more nervous and stressed we are the more constricted and limited our thinking. As our thinking becomes more constricted and limited, our access to problem solving, creativity and memory decreases and our anxiety goes up. It then becomes a vicious circle with higher anxiety leading to more impaired thinking.

A job interview is a very stressful situation so for many of my job search clients an ohnosecond comes right after they leave an interview. As soon as the door to the interview room closes behind them, they realize that they either didn’t ask an important question (like the all time best interview question), misinterpreted a question and went down the wrong path, or omitted telling the interviewer a very important and differentiating piece of information. For many, the after interview ohnosecond is accompanied by frustration, disappointment, embarrassment and a sense of having blown an important opportunity.

To avoid an ohnosecond in an interview try some of the following strategies:

Take a breath
Breathing is the best stress reliever. A deep diaphragmatic breath exhaled slowly does wonders to slow our heart rate and reduce anxiety. Try taking a couple of breaths before entering the interview and a couple during the interview if you can do so unobtrusively.

Prepare, prepare, prepare
The better prepared you think you are the less anxious you will be. Research the company, the position, the market and the people you will be interviewing with.

Develop an Interview Presentation

By developing an interview presentation (www.interviewbest.com) you will be prepared to confidently present the information the hiring manager needs to know to fully assess your fit with the position. By using the presentation in the interview, you will be reminded of the information you want to communicate and you will not succumb to constricted thinking caused by any stress you are feeling.

Give yourself reminders
On a pad of paper, the one you should be using to take notes during the interview, write reminders of things you should be doing in the interview but might forget under stress. Things like smile, talk slowly, eye contact, breath, listen, etc. You will be surprised how helpful these little reminders will be.

Take time to think
An interview is not a game show where you have 20 seconds to answer a question as the music plays and then a buzzer goes off. When you are responding to a question take your time, slow down, think. It is perfectly OK to say to the interviewer “let me think about that for a moment”. However, try not to think for more than a minute ( a minute is a fairly long time).

Create a conversation

It is less stressful to be in a conversation than an interrogation. Engage the interviewer ask them how they got their position and be curious about them. Ask for feedback about your answers, ask for the interviewer’s opinion. Make statements about what you are talking about. Example, “It is interesting that you are asking me about my experience with operations how does operations come into play in this position?”

Avoiding ohnoseconds is all about controlling anxiety and stress. By increasing your confidence you will reduce your anxiety and stress and will hopefully turn a ohnosecond to an aha second.


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