Answering questions when you don’t know the answer

Hey, everybody, Don Georgevich here with Job Interview Tools. Today, I want to talk to you about answering questions when you don’t know the answer. I had a subscriber write in and she’s like, “Hey, Don, what do I do when I go in a job interview and they ask me a question, I just have no idea what the answer is?

So, if you want to hear what I told her, go ahead and let me know by hitting the “Like” button on this video. Subscribe to my channel and ring the bell and I’ll give you some ideas.

So, this all happens and it’s probably one of our biggest concerns before we go into a job interview; what if they ask a question we don’t know? And that just drives us nuts because you’re in an interview and it’s already a tense situation. They might even ask you a question that you know the answer to, but you forgot.

So, how do you handle a situation where you’re put on the spot, they ask you a question and you just have no idea. Well, there’s a couple of things you can do. I mean, one, you can take a pass. You can say, “Um, I don’t know. I’m not sure. Can I come back to that?

Now, they’ll say, yes, probably, but you can only do that once. You can’t keep taking passes for all of their questions. Maybe they’ll let you get away with one, but I don’t really even suggest that.

Instead of taking a pass on it, ask them to ask it a different way. So, you might say, “What exactly do you mean by that?” And what that will do is;

  1. That’ll buy you just a little bit more time to think about it.
  2. Push the question back on the interviewer, and hopefully they’ll rephrase it in a different way that makes it easier for you to answer or it connects with you in a different way and mainly so it just gives you a little bit more time to think about it.

And my favorite way is when they ask me something that I just don’t know. Now, I got to remember, you see or you got to remember; you’re in an interview and they’re asking you questions, they’re expecting an answer for something; for everything, really.

Because you got to remember; if they were hire you and they were to ask you to do something and you said, “I don’t know” which is a distinct possibility, you see, that’s why these types of questions are asked in the interview.

So, if they ask you a question in the interview and you’re like, “I don’t know”, they’re going to guess that if they were to hire you, that they were to ask you to do something that you probably wouldn’t know. It’s a huge strike against you to not try to come close to something.

And if you just take a pass, you say, “I don’t know you”, you’re really doing a lot of damage to yourself in the interview. Maybe not true in all cases, but generally, if they’re asking you an experience-related question and you don’t have an answer for it, it’s a big strike against you. No doubt about it.

So, what do you do? Let’s say they ask you a question, “Tell me about a time when you had two…” or whatever. The best thing to do is; (1) You can take a pause. You can even give them some non-verbal language that shows them that you’re thinking about it. Kind of like, you can scratch your chin, you can reach over and grab a bottle of water, take a little sip. What that’s doing is that’s creating a bunch of natural pauses and that’ll give you more time to think of something. So, that’s one way to buy that little bit of extra time.

Now, if you come to it and you’re like, “You know what? I just don’t know. I’ve no idea what they’re even talking about. If you don’t even know what they’re talking about, you have to ask them for clarity. They have to do that. Otherwise, you might end up answering a question completely with the wrong answer or answering a different question, because you don’t know.

So, let’s say you kind of know what they’re talking about, you just don’t have an answer for it. What do you do? You try to come close. You want to acknowledge that, “Hey, I don’t exactly have experience with that particular product” or “that platform” or “that language” or whatever it is. “I don’t have exact experience with that, but I do have experience with this program” or “this product.”

So, make a comparison. That’s how you can come a little bit closer and maybe you meet him halfway. It’s certainly a lot better than saying, “I don’t know.”

So, if you were to ask me a question about something, I had no idea what it was, my brain would go to work and it would try to come up with something that’s similar. And be like, “You know what? I’m not exactly sure. I haven’t worked with that exact thing, but I have done this. And I think those two are kind of similar.”

You want to show some type of commonality, create some similarity, to show them that you at least understand what they’re talking about. That’s one way you get a little bit closer.

But I highly recommend you don’t take the pass, but just try to create a pause and meet them halfway and they’re going to be happy with that.

Now, let’s just say you can only do this once; maybe twice. But if you keep showing a pattern of saying, “Well, I don’t exactly have experience with that, but I do with this.” And if that’s your answer for, like, every other question, the job’s probably just not right for you in the first place.

And you should even call yourself out on that and say, “You know what, guys? I think you’re looking for somebody who has this set of skills. And I kind of have this set. I don’t think I’m right for it.”

Just call it out. And you know what? They might say, “Hey, you’re right.” or they might say, “You know what? Yeah, we realize that, but we think someone with your expertise would be able to come up to speed a lot more quickly in this area. Would you be interested in continuing the conversation?” Something like that. Yeah.

So, it’s always good if you can kind of step up and call yourself out. I mean, if there’s a skill or experience, whatever it is that you don’t have, call attention to it, so they don’t call attention to it. Because if you don’t call attention to it, they’re going to do it. And then it’s going to be an awkward situation.

But if you call yourself out on it, there’s nothing they can do. There’s nothing they can say. It’s more of a stronger power move and it shows it shows that you are really genuinely interested in helping them.

I mean, if you were going to help somebody and you knew that you couldn’t help them, don’t you think that they would like you more if you were honest and said, “You know what? I don’t think I can really help you with that?” Wouldn’t that make you feel better about that person, instead of someone who’s trying to trick you or deceive you into thinking that they can help you when they really can’t? That’s what I would do.

That’s what I would do. Just call it out. Call attention to your weakness, whatever it is. That way, they can’t do it. And then let them decide how important it is.

See, all too often, job seekers see fault in themselves and they think that everybody sees that same fault. So, let the employer decide, let the hiring manager decide if your weakness, that area that you don’t have expertise, is a big enough concern for them. Chances are it’s more of a concern for you than it is for them.

But most people don’t see it this way. People go into a job interview just freaking out then they’d be like, “Well, I don’t know this. I don’t know this. I don’t know this.” Well, maybe that’s not as big a concern for the interviewer as it is for you.

All right, my friend, I hope this helps you with the next time you go on an interview and you’re hit with something that you don’t know. I mean, not that this is a perfect solution, but this is a way to handle the issue, instead of just throwing your hands up and saying, “I don’t know.”

So, I think that’s going to help you out in your next interview. And before you go, as always, go to, download my free Top Ten Interview Questions Guide.

This is like a 20-30-page guide. It’s going to show you how to answer the most common questions. Because if you’re here and you don’t know how to answer questions, this guide is going to help you answer those questions. It’s going to offer a little bit more clarity and insight into how to answer questions.

It’s going to cover, “Tell me by yourself”, “Why do you want to work here? Why did you leave your last job?” It’s going to touch on all those different questions.

And once you learn how to answer those questions, that’s going to help you go farther in the interview, because it’s going to raise your comfort level with answering questions.

And naturally, once you learn how to answer certain questions, that’s going to give you a lot more leverage in answering other questions. And you’re just going to build a lot of momentum.

Now, as with any interview, obviously, they’re going to ask you more than 10 questions. And that’s why I strongly recommend The Complete Interview Answer Guide. This guy is going to teach you how to answer over 140 different questions.

And it’s got behavioral questions in it. And obviously, you know, “Tell me about yourself.” “What are your weaknesses?” “Why was your GPA so low?” “What are your accomplishments?” It’s going to go into detail on all of those different questions; like 140 of them.

And you can get this physical book; this physical hard book here. It’s like 130 pages and it’s got over 40 or 50 behavioral questions in it; from management and project management, stuff like that.

And it’s also the only guide in the world that is available in audio and video. So, you can download all the audio tracks for all these questions, put them on your phone and you just take me in the car and listen wherever you go. It’s also available and physical hardcopy. I’d ship this out to you.

And it’s also available in e-book; instant download. That’s the most popular one. People just download this book every day. And you can get it in your email inbox in just minutes.

So, only book in the world that’s in hard copy, audio, video and instant download PDF.

And this guide is going to help you go a lot farther. This Top Ten book, this is going to help you. This is going to get you started. This is good starter stuff. But in interviews, they’re going to ask you more than ten questions. And that’s where this guide is going to go into a lot more details and just go deeper than I can in just a free guide or than I can on this YouTube channel.

I mean, I try to answer as many different questions as they can here, but there’s only so deep I can go in a ten- or fifteen-minute video. I mean, this guide here, I’ve got probably two or three hundred different videos that construct this book in the members area. And it’s going to allow you to just take a deep dive into answering questions the right way with the right language and how to say it and how to say it with that confidence.

That’s really the key to it all is how you answer those questions. You can’t just go into the job interview and answer a question, kind of just sitting back {indistinct 12:00} in your chair. You need to express yourself when you answer the question. You need to speak succinctly. You need to look into the eye of the interviewer. And you need to speak confidently, like you know what you’re talking about.

Now, I know that part of part of what this video was about was kind of how do you answer questions when you don’t know what you’re talking about? It’s hard to speak confidently when you don’t know what you’re talking about. And that’s why I said to call attention to yourself for saying, “You know what? I don’t know this, but I do know this.”

So, you can confidently say that, “I don’t know this” and confidently say, “But I do know this.” But if you just sit back in your chair and say, “Well, I’m really not sure about that. I’ve never heard of that before.” You’re out. That’s a red flag.

So, you can exude a lot of confidence in the interview with your posture; sitting up straight, with your voice, looking them directly in the eye and talking to them; all those nonverbal things just make you overflow with confidence.

And that’s one of the things that interviewers are looking for, not just the right answer. Not what you say, how you say it; how you deliver it. You deliver it with body language; full intensity. You can’t just sit back there and answer questions like this. It doesn’t work.

You have to be focused, you have to be confident and use your body, use your voice, use your diaphragm, use all these tools that you have to direct your message to the interviewer, so that they not only hear you, but they feel you and they understand you.

All right, my friend, that is all I have for you today. Good luck on your next interview. Go out there and just nail it. Just go out there and nail your next interview right now. All right. Take care. See in the next video. Bye now.

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