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What do you do when you don't have the answer for an interview question?

Let's say you're in an interview, and they ask you if you have any experience in this field. Instead of saying just "no", how could you word it better? #job #interviews #job-application

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Kim’s Answer

Adding to Karyn's excellent answer. . .
Sometimes you can show that not only do you want to learn, but that you have the aptitude (ability) to learn. For example, let's say the job requires doing an end-of-shift cash balancing report, and you have never done that. But, you have taken and excelled at math classes or accounting classes. Then you would give that as a reason why you know that you would be able to quickly pick it up. So you want to combine both the desire to learn and the aptitude to learn. You never want to leave a cold, hard "no" just floating around in their minds. Always find a way to soften it!

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Karyn’s Answer

If the question is "have you any experience using Microsoft Word?" and you do not, the answer is simply "no". If the question is more general and pertaining to the job you are applying for than the answer will never be just "no". Why are you applying for that job? At that company? Your reply will be something like "no, I've never done <that> but I've always wanted to ..... " and this is where you get creative, sell yourself, and show you've done your homework. "No, I've never used a cash register before but I want to become a manager and maybe own my own Subway one day and to do so I will need to learn how to do all jobs .... " Basically you need to communicate that even if you are lacking some skills you want this job with this company and are willing to learn. I hope this helps.

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John’s Answer

Robin, We all know that one of the most important parts of preparing for an interview is to do your research on the most common interview questions and to practice your answers ahead of time. Knowing what to say ahead of time is a great way to ease your interview anxiety and to feel more confident. Here are five tips on what to do when you don’t have an answer to an interview question:

1.) DON’T PANIC – Many interviewers ask though questions not to see if you know the answer, but to see how you react under pressure. How you respond to an interview question that completely stumps you is much more important than being able to give an answer, so you’re going to want to avoid freaking out at all costs. When you’re faced with a question that you just don’t know how to answer, try to maintain a calm, confident posture and take a deep breath. Staying confident will show interviewers that you can compose yourself, while completely falling apart and getting worked up will make them lose faith in you. Try saying something along the lines: “That’s a great question, but I would like to consider it further and get back to you with a full answer.” (Robin see #4 Below)

2.) TAKE YOUR TIME – When you’re asked a tough interview question that you can’t answer right away, don’t just try to come up with an answer all willy nilly. That’s a recipe for disaster. Instead, acknowledge the question and that you’re thinking about it. You can also give yourself some more time to answer by rephrasing the question or asking for some clarification. Plus, by the time the interviewer responds to you, you have already come up with an answer!

3.) THINK OUT LOUD – Sometimes interviewers ask tough questions to get an idea of how you work through problems. After you’ve taken some time to think through the question, explain your thought process to the interviewer and go from there. Thinking out loud about a tough interview question is a great way to keep the conversation going and to avoid any awkward silences, plus it serves as a means to show interviewers how you think and work through unexpected obstacles without losing your cool.

4.) FOLLOW UP WITH THE INTERVIEWER – When you’re faced with a question that you just can’t seem to come up with an answer for, there’s no harm in answering that question later on when you reach out to the interviewer with your follow up email.v Interviewers don’t expect you to have all of the answers to every single tough question, but showing them that you’re persistent and resourceful will stand out and impress them more than your being able to answer a difficult interview question on the spot.

Robin, even though it may seem like a total nightmare, not being able to come up with an answer on the spot for a tough interview question isn’t a death sentence for your job prospects. Interviewers are more interested to see how you handle challenges and work through tough problems than knowing that you have all of the right answers. So just stay confident, don’t panic, and all the right answers will come!

Good Luck Robin

John recommends the following next steps:

KNOW THE JOB – Job postings are carefully crafted to convey a message to potential job applicants. Have you thoroughly reviewed and analyzed the job posting?
KNOW THE COMPANY – The internet has opened up a whole new world to job seekers. There’s no “flying blind” when it comes to selling yourself to a company you don’t know.
PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT – The more confident you are in your ability to answer questions, the more positively you’ll represent yourself to prospective employers.
ETIQUETTE MATTERS – You’re not just being judged on what you say during an interview. You’re also being judged on what you do.
ALWAYS SEND A THANK YOU – Ask for the business card of each person you speak with during the interview process so that you can follow up individually with a separate thank you email.
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Tim’s Answer

Always be prepared for questions like this. It is all about how you frame your answer. If you dont have any direct experience you could use life experience or a related field that you may have had exposure to as a talking point. For example, you are interviewing for a front desk position bit only have retail experience. When asked you can say " As for reception I dont have any direct experience, but its my undersranding that a large part of being a receptionist is customer service. In retail roles in the past I have gained extensive experience in working with customers, handling calls, and dealing with irrate customers." Always study the application you filled out online. The responsibilities and candidate qualifications tell you their expectations. You want to have creative ways to speak to those things. Lastly, remember they would not have pulled your resume from the thousands that they recieve if you weren't somehow a match. Just do your homework, answer the question directly, but follow up with relatable information that speaks to your qualifications.

Thank you comment icon This is great advice. Even if you don't have experience, get creative and answer it from general life experience or try to relate to it in the best way possible. In my opinion, it's not good to just simply say, "no." Bethany Krombholz
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sundara’s Answer

The best way to express is by telling,
"So far I never had an opportunity to have an exposure in that area, but would be really excited to have one".

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Greg R.’s Answer

That depends on the question. If the questions is something directly related to the job that you are seeking, perhaps you should have done more homework before the interview. That aside, in life and in your career it is always better to answer honestly than to try to fake your way through something that you' don't know. You could always respond "I am not sure how to answer that question. Is that something that I would be trained on". (or something like that)

A good interview method that I always found helpful was to do most of the question-asking during an interview (while being sure to listen, of course). That shows that you're truly interested in the job/company and that you've done the homework necessary to ask good questions, and it puts you more in control of the conversation vs the interviewer. Your questions can be as simple as "how long have you been with XYZ Company? What attracted you to this company? What are the things that you really enjoy about working for XYZ? Every company has areas where they could improve, what things could XYZ do better, in your opinion?". That kind of thing!

If you're interviewing for a very specific position (like purchasing manager for P&G or similar) then your questions would need to be more specific.
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Shelby’s Answer

Hi Robin!

If they ask you a question you simply don't know the answer to, BE HONEST! They can tell if you're lying to them. You can say something like, "I'm honestly not sure how to answer that question." They may rephrase it, giving you more time to think about it. You can also ask for a couple of minutes to think about the answer.

If the question is asking about experience and you don't have any, instead of saying "no." You can say something like, " I don't have any experience in that particular thing, but I do have this experience in this other thing and I am eager to learn more." You don't want to say you have experience you don't have, but you also want to show them why they should hire you without that experience.
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Thomas’s Answer

Hello!

What do you do when you don't have the answer for an interview question?
Let's say you're in an interview, and they ask you if you have any experience in this field. Instead of saying just "no", how could you word it better? job interviews job-application

There are a few ways to address this type of scenario:
1. Rather than just saying "no", hopefully you did some research in advance to understand where you might fall short in the specific skill being brought up. This way you can speak to transferrable skills you have that will help you be successful in the field.
2. You may also have learned skills in your current or past field you didn't know when you started, and you can talk about quickly you learned or educated yourself to learn that specific skill; this shows initiative and drive on your part.
3. You could ask a question back to the interviewer here to get specifics: "What are some of the specific skills that you're looking for with this?". Then share examples from your experience or education that demonstrate your ability to be successful in those areas.
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dave’s Answer

ALWAYS be Honest about what you do and do NOT know

you can also say that you are a fast learner!
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Joel’s Answer

One thing I want to suggest to anyone wondering how to respond to any question where the answer would effectively be "no, I don't have any experience with that", is to remember, whatever the job or role is that you're applying for, you likely have most of the skills and experience required already, or you probably wouldn't have been selected for an interview. Think about this, and then consider a time in your past when you didn't know something that you do now. How did you learn that skill? If you learn like most people, you were exposed to it, you tried to figure it out on your own or with some help from someone else. Perhaps you received formal training for it. If you have achieved success at some level with the things you already know and do well, applying the same approach to learning it will work again, provided you have the time and opportunity. Using your own words, speak to this, and let the interviewer know that you don't think it should be a barrier to your being selected for the job. It would also help if you can speak to this confidently which will give the interviewer the impression that you welcome the challenge to learn new skills, and that you're capable of doing so.

Joel recommends the following next steps:

Confidence (not OVER-confidence) is important. If you lack confidence in yourself, have a chat with a family member or friend who can help build you up and remind you of what you're already really great at, and remind yourself of those qualities heading into your interview.
Be sure to do your homework and conduct some research on the company and some of the key contributors there as part of your pre-interview preparation.
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Mark’s Answer

Always remember the 3 Cs "Be calm, cool and confident". If you do not know an answer, be honest. "I am sorry, I do not have an answer for that now, but I would be happy to give it further thought and get back with an answer". interviews can be intimating , it is ok to not answer every question. Be honest and transparent

Interviewing is the opportunity for you to tell your story - To explain why you are interested in the role and the company.
It is also an opportunity for a candidate to interview the company as well - to ensure that it is a good fit for you at the same time the company is deciding if you are a good fit for them.
Be prepared - read the job description carefully - make notes of your experience so you can speak directly about your successes and how your experience indicates how you have achieved similar objectives. Look at Wikipedia and the website to understand company highlights and history and what they have achieved most recently. When a company asks why you are interested in working for them, give a specific example - Perhaps they have a charitable foundation that impresses you or they recently achieved a specific milestone. Providing a reason other than what relates to the job description will show them you have done research and you are extremely interested in not only what they provide on a business standpoint but what they do beyond those objectives. Have questions for them - A good question is "Why are you looking to fill this role now and what would be the immediate objectives you would wish me to achieve on a short- and longer-term basis?".
An interview is your time to shine - be prepared, look your best, maintain good eye contact, be gracious, professional, and kind. Because of Covid- most interviews have been video calls - same rules apply, make sure your camera is working, be in a quiet room with no distractions, have a virtual simple background, dress your best, look into the camera and not at the screen to maintain that eye contact, Do your best!
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Simeon’s Answer

For both parts of your question, I would say have some sounds bites prepared ahead of time. I mean have a list of stories in the back of your mind for whenever you draw a blank or can't answer a question. You can redirect questions to these stories and do what you can to show how the story illustrates the point the interview question is getting at.
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Phoebe’s Answer

Robin a good question! Haven't we all felt like our brains have formatted in front of an interview panel.

Confidence is everything, it even shows you know what you saying even if you have the foggiest of ideas.

Do not run blank. Relate that to something you have done in life that is close to that. How you nailed it. Let them know you are ready to learn more!
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Pooja’s Answer

Great question Robin, My recommendation is to always be transparent and say something like "Sorry I do not have hands on experience ( or foundational knowledge) in this area but I am a fast and an eager learner, given an opportunity I would love to dive deep into this area and up-skill myself, I noticed this skill is part of job description and I have already started taking a learning course X and believe this will help me efficiently perform X task". It is crucial to review job description very carefully before applying as well as after getting interview call and be prepared with your areas of strengths or areas you might have to work upon. This also helps to keep yourself prepared with answers in your back pocket. I always recommend following STAR format ( Situation, Task, Action and Results) while answering most of the questions during an interview. Hope this helps and wish you luck.
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