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During an interview, your goal is to prove that you are the best candidate for the job. Occasionally, a question will catch you off guard. In addition to expecting standard questions regarding your work history, education, etc. Spend time preparing a game plan for questions that you don’t have the answers to. There are several ways to maintain your composure when you get asked a question that you were not expecting.


Take Some Time to Think 

It’s perfectly acceptable to take a moment to compose yourself before committing to an answer. Successful candidates will use dialog such as “That’s a great question,” or repeat the question back to the interviewer. This is a popular technique that allows someone to gather their thoughts and deliver a strong answer. This small break can give you the time you need to think of an appropriate response. Keep in mind, the 30 seconds that you take to compose yourself will feel longer to you than the interviewer, so don’t feel self-conscious. The interviewer wants to give you the time needed to deliver a thoughtful and well-constructed response. 


Ask Clarifying Questions 

If you’re unsure of the question being asked or need more information to formulate your responses, ask a follow-up question. It’s perfectly fine to say, “I don’t think I understand the question, can you explain?” If appropriate, ask how other company employees have dealt with similar issues or what their company policies suggest the best course of action is. This will give you a better sense of an appropriate response, allowing you to provide an answer to a topic that you aren’t able to answer outright. 


Know When to Say “I Don’t Know” 

There are many ways to say that you don’t have the answer to a question without sounding defeated. You can use dialog such as “I haven’t dealt with a situation like that before, but I would start by asking these questions.” You can also say “That concept or situation is new to me, I’ll have to look into it.” 

Remember to be transparent with your knowledge. An interviewer knows when you aren’t confident in your response and are making up information. 


Take the Opportunity to Follow Up 

Use your unanswered questions as a chance to follow up with the interviewer. Offer to get back to them on a response after you’ve had a chance to do some research. This will show that you’re passionate about the role and are willing to engage in continuous learning/improvement. This will also give you a valid reason to follow up with your interviewer after an interview. After you’ve thought about the question and done your research, send a brief thank you email along with your answer. Try saying, “I thought about your question, and I think this would be a good solution.” 

Remember, your interviewer and those involved in the hiring process aren’t setting you up for failure. They simply want to find out if you have the skills needed to excel in the role. Avoid getting defensive when you are faced with a tough question. Think of an interview as a conversation, get comfortable asking questions, giving yourself time to think, and being transparent when you don’t have all the answers. If you want to put these new skills to the test, contact Triple Crown at to find your next interview opportunity!