When you don’t know the answer to a question during a conversation or job interview, silence can seem deadly.
Perhaps you would rather have the ground open and drag you into a black hole. But there’s no reason to worry – keep these things in mind and you’ll be much better next time …
First of all, remember that the most important thing is to stay calm. If you allow yourself to panic, your body will react too – your blood pressure and heart rate will increase. When your body responds to stress, it is much harder to think clearly, and you may say something without thinking.
Breathe deeply and remind yourself that it is perfectly normal not to know the answers to all the questions. You have to go through this moment because you cannot change what is happening, but keeping peace of mind can make the answer known by itself.
Don’t hurry to say “I don’t know” and don’t tell lies. Don’t hurry to say “I don’t know” to someone who needs a valuable answer. But at the same time, be cautious in inventing things and events. Often the interviewer knows more than you might think.
Ask questions. Maybe the very question is what you don’t understand. Ask the interviewer to clarify what is being said. Look into this question to see if you can get more details that will help you understand it.
Tell them how you would find the answer. Even if you do not yet know what the answer is, you can tell your interviewer step by step how you will find it out. Interviewers ask you difficult questions simply because they want to know what your thinking strategy is. And sometimes your thought process may be more important than the answer itself. They want to see how they can take the initiative and find solutions on their own, instead of looking for someone to keep their hands on.
While you are trying to find a solution to the problem, there is nothing wrong with admitting that some things seem unclear. This will give you the impression of openness that the other person will appreciate. For example, if you have to calculate something in your head, you can say, ” I can’t do these calculations in my head, but they seem to help get the right answer. And what I can do is use the calculator to figure it out. ” Opening up shows your vulnerability and sincerity, which makes you feel more comfortable.
Know the right moment to answer. While we mentioned that saying “I don’t know” is not the right thing to do during an important conversation, there are some exceptions.
If the answer is something you could only know through memorization, such as the definition of a word, then it is better to admit that you do not know it than to try to figure it out on your own.
Here’s what you can say to the interviewer: “That’s a good question, but unfortunately I don’t know the answer. But I’ll be happy to give you this answer after the interview. ” Don’t be afraid to contact the person by email after the interview.