What To Say When You Can’t Answer The Interview Question?

You might forget the words that you want to use or maybe you simply don’t know how to answer the question and feel stuck in the moment. On this page, you’ll learn what to say when you can’t answer the interview question OR what to say when you don’t have an answer. Check out the options and answers!

#1 Example Answer (Buy Yourself Some Time)

“[Repeat Question] Well, that’s a great question. I’ve honestly never thought about that. Let me think back for a moment… I definitely remember a time when [Answer]”

OR

“[Repeat Question] That’s a difficult question to answer. Can you rephrase or explain what you mean by [X]? Just to make sure that I understand it correctly… So, I guess I would say that [Answer]”

#2 Example Answer (Focus On What You Know)

“Honestly, I’ve never been in the position where I have had [Situation]. However, I do know that [Focus on what you know]. I’m thrilled about the opportunity to learn more about [What you don’t know].”

OR

“Actually, I’ve never used [Software XYZ] before, but I’ve heard it’s a great tool to perform [Task 1] and [Task 2]. Personally, use [XYZ Software] because of its responsive interface on both mobile and desktop.”

#3 Unable To Answer (Use Follow-Up Email)

“That’s a complex question. I’m sorry but I don’t know the answer to that question. As soon as I get back from the interview, I’ll dive deeper into [Topic] because I genuinely want to know how to do [X].”

FOLLOW-UP EMAIL SCRIPT (Same day)

RE: Interview [Your Name Surname] for [Position] on [Date]

Dear Mr. [Name Surname],

First and foremost, thank you for giving me the opportunity to be interviewed today. 

I appreciated your question on [Topic], and after giving it more thought, my answer is as follows:

[INSERT ANSWER HERE]

I really enjoyed the interview, especially our conversation about [Topic].

I look forward to hearing from you about the outcome.

Kind regards, 

[Name Surname]

Interview Question Tips

  • Don’t ramble or mumble, but share with the interviewer how you think, process and solve problems. It’s understandable that you can’t answer all the questions, but you need to involve them by thinking out loud. That way, you avoid awkward silences and involve the interviewer.
  • Do buy yourself some time by repeating the question AND by asking the interviewer to explain, define, rephrase or clarify the question further to make sure that you understand it correctly. 
  • Do focus on what you do know instead of saying “I don’t know” OR “I’m not sure”. You want to think about something that is similar that you are familiar with and use that in your answer.
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