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Don’t Know an Answer during Interview? 8 Powerful Tips to Tackle the Situation

If you don't have the answer of the questions in interview then what will you do? Don't know? Here is solution to handle the situation easily.
The word ‘Interview’ comes from a Middle French phrase “s'entrevoir” which means "to see each other, visit each other briefly, have a glimpse of," and that is exactly what interviews are about. The interviewer wants to have a brief look at your capabilities and hence, tests you mentally in all possible ways. More often than not, the discomfort comes from the lack of a cohesive answer in your mind to the interviewer’s question. And it’s this discomfort and not your inability to answer that ends up your chances to get the job. Here are a few tips on how to tackle this situation.

1) Stay Calm

This old clichéd phrase that you have probably heard a hundred times and dismissed already is actually quite helpful in such circumstances. The mind runs in multiple directions looking for an escape and ends up leaving you more confused and restless. This might even result in physiological reactions like an increase in heartbeat and a rise in blood pressure, all of which could affect your performance.

So take a deep breath and relax. Once you are calm, you’ll be able to think more clearly as the panic subdues and can go on normally with the interview.

2) Do not Lie

While you may think that you could get away with making an answer at whim or bending facts in your favor, the risks outweigh the reward. It would be really naïve of you to think that the interviewer could be manipulated with a made-up answer. Best case scenario you get a question right but you’d be walking the tightrope throughout the interview over the credibility of your subsequent answers. Instead accept your lack of knowledge respectfully and move to the next question.
Related: Top 10 Pharmaceutical Interview Questions and Answers

3) Ask Questions

Sometimes you know the question and it’s the language that fogs your ability to comprehend it. Or maybe you just didn’t hear it right. Either way, asking questions shows your eagerness or interest in the interview which ultimately works in your favor. A polite “Could you please repeat the question?” or “Could you rephrase your question?” works wonders. It also establishes a relationship with the interviewer as it shows you aren’t afraid to ask questions.

4) Try to Make It Sound like a Conversation

Please keep in mind this is an interview and not an interrogation. The more you make it sound like a normal conversation, lesser the chances of you being attacked with a pointy question. Interviews work best when both the interviewer and interviewee are at the same level with no one overpowering each other. An interesting conversation would also make a lasting impact in the mind of the interviewer and make you stand out among other applicants. Hence, you end up increasing your chances of success altogether.
Related: Tips for Telephonic Interview

5) Don’t Say “I don’t Know”

While honesty indeed is a great policy and we’ve already ascertained that you should not lie, please refrain from being so blunt about your answers. You are of course perfectly within the line in expressing your inability to answer the question but a straightforward “I don’t know” says more about your lack of interest in trying to answer rather than your lack of knowledge. Instead, explain why you are unable to answer the question. It could be your lack of interest in the subject or you simply forgot. An interviewer is more likely to consider this reason and understand but even if he doesn’t, it still doesn’t leave the lasting impression of an immensely negative “I don’t know.”

6) Focus on What You Know

As already explained, the best interviews is a two-way exercise. A good interviewee will always drive the interview to play to his strengths.

So let’s say the interviewer asks if you know X? Say “No but I know Y…” and go on about it. You have now shifted the focus towards something you know and if you’re good, the interviewer probably won’t even notice the switch. Even if the interviewer notices the switch, he would also deduce two things about you. You are honest and confident in your abilities. And secondly, you can improvise when required. So a win-win situation either way.
Related: 5 Tips for Interview in Pharmaceuticals

7) Admit and Show Eagerness to Learn

Sometimes you are sure that no matter what you do, the answer shall elude you at least for the duration of the interview. In such cases, come clean to the interviewer and assert that it’s something you’re willing to work on. Your eagerness to learn compensates your inability to answer and ultimately works in your favor.
For example- Interviewer: “Are you aware of the latest developments in the Syrian Refugee Crisis?”
Answer: “I’m afraid I’m not but it’s something I’d look up now post this interview.”

8) Explain How you Arrive at an Answer

Interviewers are not looking for people that can instantly answer all their questions. They have Google for that. Sometimes, your logical prowess or decision-making abilities may be tested using a case study. They want you to explain how you arrived at the answer rather than figure out what the answer is in your head. In such cases even if you feel that you don’t know an answer straight away, read the case carefully and give it a shot. The interviewer is simply assessing your thought process and doesn’t need an objective answer.


Interviews may look daunting when things are not going your way. Sometimes, seconds of silence echo loudly feeding on your fears and all seems lost. But remember, it’s always in your control and even when you think that you can’t answer a question – relax.

With the help of these tips, you can easily wiggle out of the tightest of nooses that constrict you when you can’t seem to find an answer in an interview and ensure success in an interview even from unfavorable scenarios.
Author Bio
Abhyank Srinet is chief consultant of the MiM Essay an online startup for Masters in Management application consulting focused on spreading quality information about the MiM degree. He takes care of Business Development and Digital Marketing side of the company. He is very passionate about writing and marketing.

Ankur Choudhary is India's first professional pharmaceutical blogger, author and founder of Pharmaceutical Guidelines, a widely-read pharmaceutical blog since 2008. Sign-up for the free email updates for your daily dose of pharmaceutical tips.
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