This is the best thing to say if you don’t know the answer during a job interview

Job interviews are generally perceived as nerve-wracking experiences. Despite thorough preparation, the uncertainty of what to expect can lead to instant panic when faced with unfamiliar questions. According to expert advice, here’s how to best handle such situations:

1. Whatever you do, don’t lie

If you’re asked about something you have no experience with, HR advisor Daniel Space recommends never lying and claiming expertise. Instead, he suggests saying, “I haven’t encountered this specific situation myself, but this is how I would approach it.” 

This approach is honest, and also demonstrates your ability to handle such situations or problems.

Space emphasises that lying is the biggest mistake one can make in a job interview. He recounts a situation where a candidate got tangled in her own lies during an interview. “She shared a story supposedly based on her experience, but the details kept changing. 

The more questions my manager asked, the more the story fell apart. It became clear that she had fabricated the story, and it ultimately worked against her,” he tells HuffPost. It’s better to be straightforward.

2. Don’t hope for the best by rambling

Ever been so nervous that you start rambling? We’ve all been there. However, in a job interview, career development advisor Mary Abbajay of Careerstone Group advises against it. “You might think that if you talk long enough, you’ll eventually answer the question. Don’t do that. If you babble, it shows that you are a poor communicator. You give the impression that you keep talking because you don’t know what you’re talking about.”

According to Lawrese Brown, founder of C-Track Training, it’s better to ask for clarification if you don’t fully understand the question. “It shows assertiveness to say, ‘Can you clarify that?'” she says. “What’s the point of talking for five minutes about something irrelevant to what the person is asking you?” Asking for clarification also has the benefit of giving you extra time to think about your response.

3. Don’t just say, ‘I don’t know’

When faced with a tough question and you find yourself speechless, it’s good to be honest, but saying ‘I don’t know’ is not the best option. During a job interview, you want to demonstrate you are engaged and eager to learn. Recruiter Tejal Wagadia suggests saying, “I don’t know that yet, but I am willing to learn those skills.”

“Never say ‘I don’t have that experience’ and nothing else,” advises job coach Ashley Watkins. “Advocate for yourself and try to find a connection between your experience and this new role. Be honest, and don’t lie about having a specific experience.” According to her, it’s better to redirect the question to a similar situation you have experienced. “Share how the skills you have gained have prepared you for this new opportunity,” says Watkins.

Remember: The company is also interviewing you

While you are applying for a vacancy at the company, they are also under scrutiny during the interview. It’s essential that you feel comfortable in a new job. How they react when you ask for clarification on a question can reveal a lot about their values. 

“If a hiring manager or company is not open to you being vulnerable, that’s actually a good thing,” says Wagadia. “Now you know it’s not a company you want to work for because who is looking for employees who are one hundred percent perfect?”

This article was syndicated from Marie Claire Netherlands
Translated and adapted by Praise Vandeh, Marie Claire Nigeria Content Writer


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