Dealing With Interview Questions That You Do Not Know How To Respond To

A question that freezes you can really throw off the flow of the conversation and leave you feeling a little rattled up, whether it's a technical question on something you've never heard of before or just something utterly unexpected.


I know there are times when you have spent hours preparing for your dream job interview, but there's still a chance you will be asked a question you don't know how to answer or are simply nervous about. Your mind went blank when the interviewer asked the question, and any attempt to fake it would just make you look worse. It is terrifying not to know the answer to an interview question, but it's not the end of the world. To avoid that, spend some time ahead of time preparing a few "fail-safe" replies to prevent getting so stumped by an interview question that you can barely squeeze out a half-baked response. Indeed, if you respond thoughtfully to some difficult interview questions, you can turn a potentially embarrassing situation into an opportunity to demonstrate your ability to adapt to changing circumstances, build a positive conversation out of a possible negative situation, reaffirm your interest in and understanding of the company, and showcase your other valuable assets or abilities.

So, what should you do if you're faced with interview questions to which you have no idea how to respond?

Take Your Time

Acknowledge that the question was asked and that you are considering it. Take a few moments to collect your thoughts and make sure you do not say anything that indicates you are stuck. Saying that you would like a moment to think about the subject demonstrates that you're thoughtful and serious. Try repeating the question to stall time. By that time, you should have a few seconds to come up with a solid answer.

Think Aloud

Remember that hiring managers are asking tough questions half of the time to get a better idea of how you work through problems, not to hear you spout the correct answer right away. So, when you have taken a moment to collect your thoughts, try articulating your thoughts clearly and moving ahead from there. To demonstrate your flexibility, you can elaborate it in steps and conclude by noting that this is just your current thoughts and that things will vary depending on the situation.

Demonstrate That You Are Not Afraid Of The Unknown

Instead of appearing as though you are avoiding a question because you do not know what to say, start strong and enthusiastically by responding that you are delighted they asked. Even if you are about to confess a skills gap, this will immediately set the tone for a more favourable conversation and perception of your professionalism. Follow up on these tricky interview questions by highlighting how keen you were to learn more about the topic asked, as well as any intentions you have for narrowing your skill gap.

Be Honest, Professionally

When you don't know the answer to a tough interview question, be honest enough to admit your lack of knowledge, but do not dwell on it. Redirect to a nearby or similar subject that you are more familiar with and show your interviewer that you're still capable of bringing some appealing abilities and talents to the table.

Although it may seem like a nightmare, failing to come up with an answer to a difficult interview question on the spot is not necessarily a death sentence for your career opportunities. Make sure to familiarise yourself with the most typical interview questions and prepare your responses ahead of time. If you still don't know how to respond to a question, be calm, take your time, and if necessary, respond later in your follow-up email. Remember to think about what the hiring manager is attempting to discover from the question, regardless of what it is. You may not be able to answer the question directly, but you've already done well if you can figure out what the hiring manager is trying to learn with the query and soothe any concerns he or she may have.


Photo by Mart Production 


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