Tough interview questions: what to do if you’re stuck

Posted 01.07.14 by prhcareers

In a recent post, we gave you some insight into how to answer those tough interview questions you weren’t expecting. You can refresh your memory here.

But what if you simply don’t know the answer to a question? Or what if you haven’t experience of the competency the interviewer is asking you to demonstrate? Fear not, there is a solution.

Firstly, let us share a couple of secrets. Number one: sometimes the interviewer will ask you a question even they don’t know the perfect answer to. Number two: we actually like it if you are honest if you haven’t experienced something, and to see how you think on your feet and frame your answer in a positive way.

Let’s address number one first. A good example of this would be something like: ‘what would you change/improve about company X?’ Unless you are going for the CEO job, it’s probably not something you’ve thought too much about. The good news is, it doesn’t matter. All the interviewer wants is to a) see how you respond under pressure and b) hear some intelligent thought (however rough!) on the topic. There are no right or wrong answers to these questions so take a deep breath, have a moment to gather your thoughts and then talk through your ideas. For this question, it might help to think about something the company could do that would impact you as a consumer – for example, is there some new content you would like to see? Do you think they could make some improvements to their website?

For number two, you will be pleased to hear that this one is very straightforward. Particularly for entry-level roles, we do not expect you to have vast amounts of experience in every competency that we are testing. It’s just not realistic. To tackle this one, it’s worth being honest – say you haven’t experienced that in a working environment. We would prefer you to be honest rather than come up with a weak, ill-formed answer. What will differentiate you from others is how you choose to develop your answers. You can either draw experience from something relevant in your personal life, or you can tell us how you would manage that situation given the chance. The latter tells us that you have the aptitude to handle that situation should you face it on the job and that you can take the initiative under pressure.

We hope this post has been useful, but please do send us your comments if you would like to know more, or if you have any feedback. We look forward to hearing from you!

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