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How to Handle Questions You Don’t Know the Answer during a Job Interview

Here’s the situation: you are in the middle of an interview for your dream job at your dream company. It seems that you have prepared everything to snatch the job opportunity. You have done your homework to dig information about the company, read necessary materials about the offered position, as well as wore your best outfit. Everything goes smoothly, until suddenly you are stumped by unexpected questions that you do not really know how to answer.

As bitter as it might sound, sometimes things do not work out as they are planned, despite your best efforts to prepare yourself. Then what should you do when you are trapped in similar situation above?  Here are some pain-free approaches that will help you deal with tough interview questions:

Take a breath

After hearing the question, you might feel that your brain freezes for a while and leave you a bit shaken up. In this situation, take time to take a deep breath. But don’t be  panic, control your expression and say something as simple as, “That’s a very interesting question. Can you give me some time to think?” Don’t rush yourself to answer the question if you still have doubt about it.

It doesn’t have to be the right answer

Sometimes, your thought process in handling a question is more important than the actual answer. That being said, your behaviour in answering the question that will demonstrate your method to find the problem solution is the key to gain potential employer’s  attention. No wonder, there will be time when the interviewers throw you a tricky question only to gauge your thought process.

Among the commonest questions that will reveal your thought process on problem solving during an interview is related to conflict management. For example, the hiring manager will ask, “What do you do when you get a difficult coworker on your team project?” You can use STAR approach to answer this kind of question by using storytelling technique. STAR is a structure elements that you can use in presenting your story, which includes situation, task, approach, and result. Storytelling technique is used because people are more likely to be engaged in information that is presented in the form of a story. Using, imagination, it will invite the listener to be part of the story and thus make them more connected and more interested in you.

Don’t be fake, just be honest

When you are facing a question that you do not even understand at all, the best way to tackle it is just be honest. However, the trick is that you should never simply say “I don’t know” without mulling it over. If you do have some knowledge related to the question, then tell what you know about the situation. But if you really have no idea, then do not fake it.

Acting like you know-it-all will only trap you in a bad position and even backfire on you if you are not careful. While this might a little bit embarrassing, admitting that you do not have the knowledge about certain parts of question is better rather than telling lies, because then the hiring manager will know you are not making stuffs up.

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