How to Answer Interview Questions (When You Don't Know The Answer)posted by Anna Mar, May 08, 2013
I refuse to answer that question on the grounds that I don't know the answer.
~ Douglas Adams
What's the difference between normal ketchup and fancy ketchup?
Hopefully, nobody will ask you tricky questions on your next job interview. However, you will run into questions that demand a specific answer. If you don't know the answer, you may feel stuck.
It's important to develop a technique to effectively answer interview questions in such situations.
Interviewers ask candidates close-ended questions to test for specific knowledge.
The following 5 techniques are designed to help you answer close-ended questions when you don't know the answer.
1. Don't BSIt's a common myth that you can answer any question by being vague. This technique is only likely to fail.
BS answers encourage the interviewer to nail down if you really know a fact or not. In other words, BS answers cause the interviewer to focus on an area that you know nothing about.
The example above illustrates another danger of BS. Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt is often considered an unethical strategy. The interviewer in the example, was actually probing the ethics of the candidate.
2. Admit That You Don't KnowBy admitting that you don't know an answer you set expectations. This usually causes the interviewer to pursuit a new line of questioning (hopefully to an area in which you're more knowledgeable).
Most interviewers find this approach refreshing. It makes you the likable, honest candidate.
3. Explain What You Do KnowNow, that you've set expectations that you don't know the answer you can tell the interviewer what you do know.
4. Explain How You'd Learn ItAfter you admit you don't know, show that you're interested in learning about the topic. Explain how you've learned similar things recently and how you've applied what you've learned to achieve measurable results.
5. Point The Interview In The Right DirectionOccasionally interviewers will ask irrelevant questions.
It's okay to let one or two irrelevant questions slide. However, if the interviewer is asking a long line of irrelevant questions, it's a good idea point it out.
Interviewers often ask what they know, not what's important to the role. When this happens, it can damage your chances for the job. It's important to push the questioning in the right direction.
This post is a installment in the ongoing series how to win your next job
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