DO'S and DONT'S when unable to answer an interview question

Not knowing how to answer a question at an interview isn't a bad thing at all, it's all about how you react to not knowing the answer. Here are our tips on what to do and what not to do when you are unable to answer an interview question.

1. DON'T panic

Panicking may ruin your whole interview as it can lead to serious interview mistakes such as blurting, babbling and fidgeting which can distract the interviewer. Many candidates assume that their interview must be perfect in order for them to be offered a job, but it is often that a solid and honest imperfect interview will move you to the next stage in the process.

2. DON'T say 'I don't know' and DO say what you do know

If you have some knowledge about the question being asked then you should let your interviewer know and at the same time letting them know that this may not answer the question but that this is the knowledge you have in that area.

3. DON'T lie

While the majority of interviewees bend the truth to some extent which we think is needed sometimes, you should never go as far as telling a blatant lie. There are 2 main reasons why we advise you not to do this. The first reason is that the interviewer may be able to sense that you are lying which will impact their general opinion of you. The second reason is that your interviewer may ask you to elaborate on or give an example of something you lied about which you may not be able to address.

4. DO ask questions

Sometimes you are unable to answer an interview question because you don't understand the question being asked. When in this situation, you should ask your interviewer to clarify their question so that they can explain the question in a different way which will hopefully give you enough details to help you answer the question.

5. DO tell your interviewer how you would find out the answer

If you do not know the answer, you can tell your interviewer what steps you would take to figure out the problem or find out. Remember that interviewers ask questions to not only get a response, but to understand your thought process.

6. DO send a follow up email

If you do not know the answer it is perfectly fine to say that you will get back to your interviewer later on that day with a follow up email. When you do follow up with them with an email, you can just say that after more time and thought, this is your answer to that question.