Don’t Know the Answer? Don’t Panic.

by Feb 26, 2018

You’re interviewing for a job, and all of the sudden the unthinkable happens. Despite all of your hard work and preparation, the hiring manager throws you for a loop and asks a question you don’t know the answer to. Suddenly the interview you thought was going so well has come to a hard stop.

Uh oh.

So what is there to do? There’s nothing you can do to change the fact that you don’t know the answer, at least not in this moment. But you don’t want to just say “I don’t know” either.

Be honest and tell them how you would find out the answer.

Erin Berkery-Rovner

In her article about this very situation, Berkery-Rovner has a few suggestions on how to do just this. She gives a step-by-step process to get your mind back in the game, and give a decent answer to the hiring manager as well.

Berkery-Rover suggests taking the following four steps:

  1. Make sure you understand what they’re saying. Repeat it back.
  2. Talk through the options
  3. Pitch a solution
  4. Bring it all back to your strengths

Hiring managers aren’t just asking to see if you “know” the answer- they’re also testing to see if your critical thinking and problem solving skills are sharp enough to figure it out in the moment. Using this step-by-step process will show the hiring manager that even if you’re presented with a problem you don’t know the answer to, you have the know-how to think your way through it.


Image retrieved from Pixabay under the public domain.

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