What Should You Do When You Don’t Know an Answer in an Interview?

Even the most prepared job seeker can be tripped up by an interview question on occasion, and being in the hot seat and at a loss for words isn’t an enjoyable experience, to say the least. Luckily, there are ways to handle the situation should it arise.

So, whether you legitimately don’t know the answer or your brain freezes up for a moment after you score that big interview through one of the top temp agencies in Cleveland, Ohio, here’s what you need to do.

Stay Calm

When you’re sitting across from the hiring manager and don’t know the answer to a question, your first inclination may be to panic. But, allowing your stress levels to rise that far can make it harder to think, making a rough situation even worse.

The first thing you need to realize, when it comes to interviews, the hiring manager is rarely expecting you to be perfect from beginning to end. So, if this one answer isn’t ideal, it doesn’t necessarily mean you aren’t getting the job. And that thought can be calming in itself.

Next, work to maintain a confident posture, so that the interviewer isn’t aware that you’re stumped, and take a controlled breath to help you relax.

Take Your Time

Once you’ve taken a breath, your next step is to buy yourself a little time. Start by acknowledging the question and asking for a moment to consider it. For example, you could say, “That’s an excellent question. Let me think about it for a moment.”

That should allow you to have a few seconds to craft a response and may be sufficient if the answer just slipped your mind initially.

Talk Through Your Thoughts

Sometimes hiring managers ask challenging questions to learn how you think, so not having the correct answer immediately available isn’t necessarily a problem. As you think through the issue, concisely review your thoughts aloud and work your way forward.

This approach can be ideal when you are asked to describe a process or how you would solve a particular problem, though might not be as effective for questions that are intended to solicit a simple, fact-based response.

Tactfully Admit You Don’t Know

If you really have no idea, then admitting that may be your best option, as long as you handle the situation properly. For example, if you were asked to define a process or outline a concept, you can begin by saying, “I’m sorry, I’m not familiar with that,” and follow that up with an explanation as to how you would get the answer, such as by researching the topic or talking with other professionals in the field.

Alternatively, that approach wouldn’t work, you can also redirect the conversation by discussing your excitement about the position, how your skills leave you well-equipped to handle the demands, and that you look forward to learning and growing on the job.

Ultimately, a single misstep might not harm your chances, but, by handling the situation with grace, you can make the best impression possible even if you don’t know the answer.

Ready for a New Job?

If you’re interested finding a new position, contact the recruiters at Vector Technical Inc. You can also begin exploring available job opportunities yourself by browsing our current vacancies, and submitting an application online to get the process started today!