As a job seeker, you may be nervous about answering questions in an interview. You may worry about what the interviewer will ask and whether you’ll have the right answers.
One of the biggest challenges you may encounter is how to say “I don’t know’ in an interview?”
The truth is that everyone has encountered this question they don’t have answers to at some point in their career.
The key is knowing how to handle it confidently and professionally.
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Table of Contents
Why do interviewers ask “I don’t know” questions
Interviewers often ask questions that may stump candidates, not necessarily to trip them up but to assess their ability to handle uncertainty and think on their feet.
They want to see how the candidate responds to pressure, and if they have the confidence to admit when they don’t know something.
By asking such questions, the interviewer is testing the candidate’s honesty and willingness to learn.
In a way, the “I don’t know” question is a way for the interviewer to get to know the candidate better.
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How do you say I don’t know in an interview?
When faced with a question you don’t know the answer to in an interview, it’s okay to say “I don’t know.”
However, it’s important to follow up with a response that shows your willingness to learn and your resourcefulness.
You can say something like, “I don’t know the answer to that off the top of my head, but I’m happy to look it up and get back to you” or “I haven’t had experience with that specific scenario, but here’s how I would approach it based on my past experiences.”
This shows the interviewer that you’re honest, humble, and eager to learn.
Remember, it’s not about having all the answers, but about demonstrating your problem-solving skills and ability to learn and adapt.
Ways to say “I don’t know” in an interview
It’s important to avoid using “I don’t know” as a catch-all response. Instead, try one of these alternatives that can showcase your willingness to learn and your resourcefulness.
“I’m not sure, but I can find out.” This response shows that you’re proactive and eager to get the right answer. It also highlights your ability to research and problem-solve, which are valuable skills in any workplace.
“I’m not familiar with that, can you provide more information?” This response shows that you’re not afraid to ask for clarification when needed. It also demonstrates that you’re attentive and detail-oriented, which are important traits for many jobs.
“That’s a great question. I don’t have a ready answer for that, but I can share how I would go about finding out.” This response shows that you’re a strategic thinker and can anticipate potential problems. It also highlights your ability to collaborate and work with others to find solutions.
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Best practices for handling “I don’t know” questions in an interview
Here are some additional tips to keep in mind when you’re faced with an “I don’t know” question:
- Stay calm and composed. It’s okay to take a moment to gather your thoughts before responding.
- Be honest. Don’t try to bluff your way through the question. It’s better to admit that you don’t know something than to provide a wrong or misleading answer.
- Show enthusiasm. Even if you don’t know the answer, you can still show excitement and curiosity about the topic. This can demonstrate your eagerness to learn and your passion for the industry.
- Highlight relevant experiences or skills. Even if you don’t know the answer to a specific question, you may have experiences or skills that are relevant to the topic. Share those experiences and skills to show how you can contribute to the company.
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The Bottom Line
The “I don’t know” question is an opportunity to showcase your honesty, curiosity, and problem-solving skills.
By using alternative responses and following best practices, you can impress the interviewer and increase your chances of getting the job.
Remember to stay calm, be honest, and show enthusiasm, and you’ll be sure to make a great impression.
Good luck with your job search!
Is it okay to say “I don’t know” during an interview?
Yes, it’s okay to say “I don’t know” during an interview. It’s better to admit that you don’t know something than to provide a wrong or misleading answer. Still, It’s essential to avoid using “I don’t know” for every question and make sure to follow up with a response that shows your willingness to learn and your resourcefulness.
What should I do if I don’t know the answer to a technical question?
If you don’t know the answer to a technical question, try to showcase your problem-solving skills by explaining how you would go about finding the answer. You can also share any relevant experiences or skills that show your aptitude for the topic.
How can I prepare for the “I don’t know” question before an interview?
To prepare for the “I don’t know” question, research the company and the industry, and review the job description and qualifications. You can also practice your responses to common interview questions, and brainstorm ways to showcase your problem-solving skills and eagerness to learn.
What if the “I don’t know” question is asked multiple times during an interview?
If the “I don’t know” question is asked multiple times during an interview, try to remain calm and composed. Use the opportunity to show your willingness to learn and your ability to problem-solve. But also make sure to ask questions and clarify any misunderstandings, so that you can provide the best answer possible.
How important is it to handle the “I don’t know” question well in an interview?
Handling the “I don’t know” question well in an interview can demonstrate your honesty, curiosity, and problem-solving skills, which are important traits for many jobs. It can also show your ability to collaborate and work with others to find solutions, which is crucial in any workplace. So, it’s worth preparing for and practicing your responses to this question.
Meet Emma Oluwatobi, the career advisor who knows how to level up your job search game without breaking a sweat. With years of experience in the job/career advisory niche, Emma has helped countless job seekers land their dream jobs. While he’s not writing his next helpful piece, he’s sure busy playing video games.