Preparation is key for a successful interview, but there are situations when being prepared cannot even help you. And that is when you don’t know the answers to an interview question. It seems absurd that you find yourself in situations like this but there are questions you do not think will pop up during the interview. Should you just outrightly say no or think of answers? Well, how you handle those questions shows how you react under pressure, so you should be careful. Here is a list of what to do when you don’t know the answers to an interview question.
You must maintain calmness when you don’t know the answers to an interview question. In this situation, you might find yourself scared and nervous, and this can make you say things without thinking. Hence the essence of being calm when faced with this situation. Besides, you should ensure that you take your time. There is nothing wrong with asking the interviewer for a few minutes to gather your thoughts. Within this time, you might gradually be able to come up with a great answer to the question. If you don’t take time to gather your thoughts, you might blurt out things that might affect your chances.
Don’t just say I don’t know rather tell them what you know
One mistake you should not make when you don’t know answers to an interview question is coming outrightly to say that you don’t know. While it is good that you are being honest, this might actually reduce your chance of acing the interview. So what do you do? Instead of saying you don’t know and just end it there, why don’t you tell them what you know? You might not know much about the topic that they are asking you but tell them the little you know. Then you can tell them that you are willing to learn more about the topic. This shows that even if you don’t know things, you are willing to learn more.
Related: How to sell yourself in an interview
Redirect the question
Another thing you can do when you don’t know the answers to an interview question is to redirect the question. If you are asked a question that you are not familiar with, you should admit that you are not familiar with it and redirect it to what you are familiar with. For instance, if you are applying for a social media marketing role and you are asked about strategies for social media marketing. If you are not familiar with social media marketing but familiar with social media management. You can redirect your answers and talk about some skills in social media management and how you can use them to form strategies for social media marketing.
Many job seekers tend to ramble when they do not know the answers to an interview question. If you are in this category, you need to stop. Don’t just ramble and hope for the best, it doesn’t work like that. When you ramble, the interviewer takes the hint that you know nothing about the question, and they might score you down. Rambling only makes you say a lot of things without saying anything, so avoid it. Besides, rambling is a sign that you are a poor communicator, which is a bad quality in any job seeker. Instead of rambling, you should actually take time to gather your thoughts so you can give a meaningful response to the question. Once you notice that you are rambling, come out upfront and admit you were rambling. This can ease off tensions from you.
Ask for clarification
One of the reasons why candidates don’t have answers to questions is if they do not understand the question. In this situation, you as a candidate should ask for clarification from the interviewer. Let them know you will like to get the questions right so you can give the right answer. There is no point in giving answers that are irrelevant to the question just because you don’t understand it. Moreover, asking for clarification is a sign of confidence during an interview. Besides, you can use the opportunity to buy yourself time. If you do not know the answer, you can ask the interviewer to repeat the questions so you will be able to buy yourself time to gather your thoughts.
Do not lie or make things up
When you don’t know answers to an interview question, make sure you do not lie. Lying during the interview is not a good quality for a job seeker. Some even go as far as making up a situation they have never been in because they want to show that they have the experience. Lying takes effort and deep thinking to be able to cover your track, which you don’t have the luxury of in an interview, thus the interviewer might fish you out. And if the interviewer fishes out your lie, it could cost you your chances not only in that company but also in the industry. Therefore, in whatever you do during the interview, do not lie. If you have not faced a situation before, be honest with the interviewer but let them know how you would handle it if you find yourself in such a position.
Take note of their reaction
Finally, take note of the interviewer’s reaction when you admit that you need help or clarification. Their reactions say a lot about their culture and value. So if the interviewer reacts badly to the fact that you need help, it is actually a good thing. It shows that you should be thinking of other options because they might not be able to look out for their employees.
Related: 10 interview red flags (for job seekers)
Not knowing answers to interview questions is not a bad thing. The bad thing is coming outrightly that you don’t know it. But, with the above list of what to do when you don’t know answers to interview questions, go nail that interview.