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What to do when awkward silence descends on your job interview

Awkward silence has a way of eclipsing the friendly banter that was once putting you and the recruiter at ease during a job interview.

But while you might feel really odd if this happens fairly often during the questioning, there are ways to both settle down and use it your advantage.

Don’t freak out — even if you’d rather run

Vicky Oliver, author of 301 Smart Answers to Tough Interview Questions, tells Business Insider why you shouldn’t go down this road in a piece about “interview mistakes” that won’t jeopardize the position.

“The awkward moment. You know it well. The moment you walk down the hallway with your interviewer, and egads, you have nothing to say,” she tells the publication, adding that occasional quietness isn’t out of the ordinary at an interview, so there’s no need to get worked up over it.

Don’t read too much into it

You’ll drive yourself nuts if you do.

A post on the Business Talent Solutions website says that you shouldn’t “overthink the silence.”

“When you don’t get an immediate reaction from the interviewer, it’s easy to start thinking that they didn’t like what they heard, that their expectations weren’t met, or that they are hoping to hear more,” the post reads. “Don’t overthink it. It is likely that they just need some extra time to jot down some notes, think about how your answer matches with the position they are trying to fill, or how they should ask the next question.”

Ask your questions

Career coach Hallie Crawford told Glassdoor that you can get your own questions in during awkward silences, because the interviewer may be giving you time to weigh in.

“Take advantage of the opportunity to address any concerns you might have about the position, the work environment, or something else that might have come up during the interview,” Crawford said. “You can also take the unexpected silence as a time to let the manager know you’re excited about the position and the possibility of working for the organization.”

The right type of questions could show the recruiter that you’re prepared.

Count to five

Alyse Kalish, Associate Editor at The Muse, wrote about this trick in the publication.

“Count to five between pauses. Odds are high you won’t get to five because the pauses are not anywhere near as long as you think,” Kalish said. “Or, if it really seems like your interviewer is waiting for you to initiate the next conversation, follow up with a question related to your own responses, such as ‘Does your company work the same way?’ ”

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