What to Do if You Go Blank During an Interview

January 2024 by Tradewind Australia

What To Do If You Go Blank During An Interview Featured Prf2

​Social and Community Services workers are currently in high demand, with an abundance of roles available across Australia. Recently released Labour Market Insights by the Australian Government predicted an increase of 23.2% in Social Workers between 2021 and 2026. This would see approximately 49,300 Social Workers in the Australian workforce by 2026.

This is positive news for Social Workers, as there are plenty of opportunities available for those looking to take their careers to new heights. But no matter how ready you are to take the next step in your career, there is no escaping the interview process.

In a regular social work interview, you’ll be asked questions that help the Hiring Manager determine your experience, your skills and how you might fit into the team. You can prepare some well-thought-out (and well-rehearsed!) answers but how can you prepare for a moment of mind blank.

Mind blanking is a full-on fight-or-flight response that occurs during panicked moments when we think of nothing for a moment or two. No stimuli comes to mind during a mind blank.

Perhaps an interview question catches you off-guard or you just can’t think of how to answer under pressure. After preparing extensively, it can feel like a complete disaster when stress takes over and causes a mind blank.

We’ve put together five steps to conquering the mind blank in social work interviews.

Calm Your Nerves

When you’re in the midst of a mind blank, it can feel near impossible to stay calm. You’re already in the pressure cooker environment of an interview and you can’t think of a single intelligent thing to say. The natural reaction is to panic.

Try to avoid letting yourself slip into a panicked headspace. Take a deep breath and use relaxation techniques to signal your brain to calm down. Remind yourself that it’s just a question and you probably know the answer to it. Once your body and mind are calm once again, you may find it easier to think clearly.

Ask Your Interviewer to Repeat the Question

This strategy is excellent for two reasons. Firstly, it will buy you some time while your interviewer goes through the original question again. Secondly, they may provide further detail or repeat the question in a different way that’s easier to understand.

Alternatively, you could also repeat the question back to them so you have a moment to collect your thoughts and ensure you understand what they’re asking. The interviewer can then confirm you’ve heard the question correctly and by then you may have begun to form an answer.

Be Honest With Your Interviewer

Most Hiring Managers understand that job interviews can be stressful. After all, interviewees are only human and might feel under pressure to answer each question perfectly. Admitting to your interviewer that your mind has gone blank shows honesty and will allow the interview to progress forward.

You could also ask the interviewer if you can return to the question later once you’ve had a chance to consider an answer. Hopefully, by the time you circle back, you will have had an opportunity to construct a response.

In this scenario, showing a positive attitude and the ability to stay calm under pressure will demonstrate your measured and steady approach to social work.

Pause, Then Answer to the Best of Your Ability

Extended periods of silence can feel awkward for both you and your interviewer. If, after going through all of the steps above, you’re still drawing a blank try to answer the question by zeroing in on the elements you do understand. Draw from what you know about the role description and then relate it to your skill set.

When it comes to interviews for Social Workers, some of the most important attributes to demonstrate are self-assurance and communication skills. Just the same as being honest with your interviewer will show a positive attitude, giving an answer to the best of your ability will show an ability to recover from a challenging situation.

Avoid the Mind Blank to Begin With

This step won’t be of much assistance if you’re in the midst of a mind blank. However, it may help you avoid the situation entirely in your next social work interview.

So, how should you prepare to avoid a mind blank? Here are a few of our best tips:

•Prepare but don’t overprepare. Our blog on How to Ace your Social Work Interview can help you ensure you’re ready for success.

•Relax as much as possible during the job interview. This will help you to think logically and rationally, and provide the best answers possible.

•Listen carefully as questions are being asked. Don’t start to prepare an answer in your head before the question is even complete – or you may find you miss important elements.


If you’re looking to make your next career move and would like some tips on conquering the interview process, reach out to our specialist Social Work recruitment team here at Tradewind Australia.

We can support you every step of the way. To find out more, get in touch with our team today.