What to Say When You Don’t Know

By, 12/10/2013

The interview process can be quite daunting, especially with so many questions to answer. What’s your greatest weakness? Why would you be a good fit for this role? But when it comes to certain questions, initially answering “I don’t know” may not necessarily keep you from getting the job.

Every interviewee wants to answer every interview question correctly. After all, you’re trying to show them you’re qualified for the job. But what happens if you simply don’t know the answer?

Sometimes, it’s ok to admit you don’t know. But it’s important to not just leave it there. Follow up with a clarifying question perhaps if you aren’t sure exactly what they’re asking, or provide an answer (truthful, of course) along the lines of what you think they might be looking for.

To some employers, having the ability to acknowledge you don’t know something is a characteristic of something greater: honesty. Saying “I don’t know” but following up with an appropriate response likely shows the interviewer you’ve answered their questions to the best of your ability and truthfully. This is an important quality employers look for during the hiring process.