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Job interviews can create anxiety even when you have all of the answers. However, not knowing an answer to a question can leave you with that deer-in-the-headlights look. This is obviously not an ideal situation when you're trying to impress a prospective employer. Blanking on answers during an interview happens to everyone from time to time, and if you don't panic, you're more likely to give an answer that will satisfy your interviewer.
The best course of action when you don't know how to answer an interviewer's question is to remain at ease. It's normal to stumble over answers when you are nervous and not knowing what to say will make you fumble even more. Have a game plan ahead of time if you get stuck on an answer. Distract yourself with another pre-planned thought or count to five, and then give the question your best shot.
When you don't know how to answer an interviewer's question, it may just be best to be honest that you don't know the answer. In a situation such as being asked how you would recommend specific articles of clothing in a retail associate's interview, you could say that you aren't positive what looks best but you are anxious to learn styling tips from the seasoned professionals in the department. It's best not to mislead your potential boss but rather, be straightforward.
An impromptu answer is one solution to an unknown job interview question. Before you give a response, briefly pause and then repeat what you were asked to give yourself a little time to ponder the question. After that, focus on one main point of the of the inquiry and support your answer with several facts or opinions. Even if you only partially answer the interviewer's original question, you gave it a solid effort.
Know the Basics
Prepare yourself before the interview with some basic questions about your industry. If you don't technically know an answer, fill in with a response to a similar question. For example, if you're applying for a sales job, you may be asked how you have handled a combative or threatening customer in the past. If you have never dealt with the given scenario, you could say, "I have never faced that situation, however, I have addressed client complaints and we were able to talk through and resolve the issues at hand." Follow that up with explaining how you deal with difficult real life work situations in more detail.
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Based in the Midwest, Gina Scott has been writing professionally since 2008. She has worked in real estate since 2004 and has expertise in pop culture and health-related topics. She has also self-published a book on how to overcome chronic health conditions. Scott holds a Master of Arts in higher-education administration from Ball State University.
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