How to recover when thrown by an interview question

You’re in an interview and you get asked a question that you’re not quite sure how to answer. How do you recover? We’ve listed some common scenarios with solutions which might help the next time you might find yourself in this situation:

1. You get asked about a difficult time in your career or a gap in your CV

Be prepared and make sure you have planned an answer to this in advance which you can deliver neutrally and honestly. Make sure you don’t talk negatively of past employers as this could raise concern for the interviewer. At the same time, you don’t want to seem like you are hiding something or are unwilling to share your experiences, so make sure you always answer the question but then re-direct your conversation to something more positive.

2. You’re asked an odd or confusing question

Try to remember that interview questions are designed to determine whether you have the skills required to complete the job you are applying for. If you are confused by a question or the angle in which you should respond, always try to bring your answer back to demonstrating a skill or quality you possess that shows you would be able to do the job.

3. You have a mind blank

We’ve all been there – you get asked a question which is seemingly quite easy to answer, but your mind fails you. Firstly, don’t panic and simply ask the interviewer to clarify the question. You can then ask for some time to think. There is nothing wrong with asking for a few moments, taking a sip of water and having a moment to formulate an answer. If you are still struggling, you should deliver a partial answer as this is better than not being able to answer at all.

To reduce the chances of any of the above happening, always ensure you are fully prepared for your interview by spending time practicing your answers and making sure you know your CV inside out.

For more tips and advice, see our complete guide to the interview process.

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