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What To Do When You Don’t Know The Answer To An Interview Question

- Jan 6, 2014

Have you ever been in a situation where you hear an interview question and all you can do is stare at the interviewer, mouth agape? If you have been in such a situation, you would know just how painful it can be even if it is just one question that you could not answer. Sometimes that particular question can be the difference between success and failure in an interview.


Does that mean there is no room for error? While it is necessary to put in your best at every interview and to show the employer the best of your skills and experiences, your best efforts may sometimes fall short and you will be stomped for an answer when asked certain questions.

When you get such questions, what do you do? How do you react? Fidget? Bang the table? Wrinkle your forehead? Bite your lips? Stammer awkwardly? All these body actions are negative body language and would create the wrong impression in the mind of the interviewer.

There are better ways of handling a situation when you don’t have an answer to the interview question. The strategy for handling the situation depends on the situation itself. Why don’t you know the answer?

The key factor in dealing with these situations is confidence. If you can look at the interviewer without fidgeting or showing external signs of stress, you may be able to get away with not answering the question correctly.

If for example, you are faced with a situation where the interviewer uses a word you don’t understand, you should not panic. Rather, you should politely ask the interviewer to rephrase the question.

Sometimes, you may be faced with a behavioral question that you have never faced before. Do you go right ahead and tell the interviewer that you haven’t faced such a situation before? No, you should attack the question in a positive sense because behavioral questions are important in every interview. Tell the interviewer how you would deal with such situations if you face them in the future.

Another question that fazes prospective employees is the so-called Mt Fuji question. For example, how many tennis balls can fill up a room. You have to have the presence of mind to think hard about the question. You should remember there are no right or wrong answers to the questions. Your thinking process is paramount.

If you are faced with an awkward, personal question that you would rather not answer or that the interviewer has no business asking, you should not take offense. Rather, you should object to the question in a way the interviewer won’t feel offended. Ask to know the rationale behind each specific question.

Overall, when you are faced with a question that you can’t answer, the most important quality to show is confidence. Don’t panic. Avoid fidgeting and always think briefly before answering.

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