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What To Do If You Don’t Know The Answer To A Question In An Interview

You’ve undertaken extensive interview research. You’ve prepared an answer for every possible question you think you could be asked. When all of a sudden you’re sat in the interview room and presented with a question you have no idea how to answer. Causing you to feel an overwhelming sense of panic as you try to quickly think of an answer.

The hiring manager wants to not only hear your answer but also wants to assess how well you respond to an on the spot tricky question. Therefore it’s completely normal to be a little hesitant when it comes to answering the question. It’s how you deal with the scenario that will prove your potential.

“If I don’t know the answer to the question will they think I’m not good enough for the role?”

Here are 5 tips to help you keep your cool in this situation and provide professional answers to the questions that may initially completely stump you.

Collect your thoughts

Take a moment to collate your thoughts and think about how you’re going to answer the question. Listen carefully and don’t interrupt the question before the interviewer has finished speaking. If you rush into an answer before the hiring manager has finished speaking it can result in you providing an answer that’s irrelevant and incorrect.

Get into the habit of taking a deep breath before you answer, this will ensure you’re calm and can process the question completely before replying with your answer.

Repeat the question

If you’re really stuck just ask them what they meant and could they expand further? Not only will this buy you more time but the hiring manager will be more likely to reword the question. Which ultimately will help you prepare an answer. They may even subconsciously be willing to help you more if you ask them to repeat a question, as they will rethink the question format themselves and reword it in a different way.

You can then start to think aloud about key events or skills you can link to the question. This can be helpful in triggering your mind regarding how you will answer the question. However, be careful when doing this as you don’t want to risk mumbling or giving a confusing long-winded answer.

What do you know?

Tell the interviewer what you DO know and expand on this. Although it may not be the exact answer the interviewer is looking for it’s better than nothing. By taking this approach instead of simply stating “you don’t know”, can help trigger your mind into the answer the actual right answer. Just make sure that what you first start saying is relevant to the question and you don’t go off on a tangent!

Preparation

Prior to your interview think of potential scenarios you could discuss in your interview. Whether these occurred in a work environment or if you are a recent graduate think back to a situation during your time at university where you used your skills to help you achieve a target.

If you are still nervous or unsure about being unable to answer a potential question. You can always prepare a generic answer that has the ability to be diverse and adaptable when answering a wide range of questions. Obviously, you don’t want to end up sounding like a robot! But by having a backup answer in mind will help calm your nerves and reduce the risk of you being unable to answer a question.

Lastly,

Don’t end your answer by shrugging your shoulders and saying “I don’t know.” It looks uncertain and unprofessional. You need to project confidence and enthusiasm, which won’t be achieved if you don’t answer an interview question. Whatever your answer may be, it’s definitely going to be better than saying nothing at all.

If at the end of the interview you feel unsatisfied with the answer you provided, you could always address the question again at the end. Express how you have thought about the question further and have something else you’d like to add. This will do no harm and will show how you are still thinking about the question and are keen to answer everything to the best of your ability.

2 Comments

  1. Mwesigwa Moses Mohammed

    Very nice advice

  2. D.Rohith kumar

    very help full to face the interviews I learned from this blog is that don’t say no try to give your best & first i want to clear about the question what the interviewer is asking Thank you…..

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