Can you answer the same interview question more than once?
Interviews are an important part of looking for a job because they give you a chance to show the hiring manager how valuable you could be to their company. Learning how to answer tough questions in an interview can help you prepare well and feel confident. When you’re getting ready for an interview, you might wonder if you can ask the interviewer to come back to a hard question later.
In this article, we talk about whether or not you can come back to a question in an interview, how to answer when you don’t know the answer, and how to handle hard questions.
Can you ask the same question more than once?
You can ask the interviewer to repeat a question, but this may only work once during the interview. You could ask to come back to a question if you need some time to think about it at the beginning or middle of the interview. For example, if the interviewer asks you a hard question about your professional goals or asks you to solve a problem at the beginning of the interview, you could ask them to come back to the question at the end.
When you ask to come back to a question, make it clear that you are thinking about it carefully and thank the interviewer for taking that into account. You could say “I’d like to think more about that question because I find it interesting. Could we talk about this again after I’ve thought about it? I would really appreciate it.” You might be able to move on to the next question and answer the one you skipped at the end of the interview.
What can you do if you don’t know the answer to a question in an interview?
Most of the time, asking to come back to a question only works once during an interview, so it can be helpful to know more than one way to handle this. Here are three more things you can do if you don’t know how to answer a question in an interview:
1. Make sure to talk about what you have to offer.
Even if you don’t always have a perfect answer to an interview question, you can often tie it to something similar you’ve done in the past. If an interviewer asks you about a task or project you don’t know much about, you can say you haven’t done the exact task but have done something similar. Then, talk about how your past experience is related to the question and what you could bring to the job that would make it better.
For example, if the interviewer asks if you’ve ever run a social media campaign and you haven’t, you can talk about your accomplishments and how they relate to the job. You could say “Even though I haven’t led a social media campaign myself, I’ve worked with several marketing coordinators who have, and during those projects I learned how to use social media analytics software to help. I’ve also led a number of successful email marketing campaigns, and I’m excited to be able to use the skills I’ve learned to market on social media.”
2. Use your problem-solving skills
If you don’t know how to do a certain kind of project and the interviewer asks you how you would do it, you can use your critical thinking skills to answer. You can talk about how you might run the project based on similar work you’ve already done. You can also think about what your past managers did in similar situations to help you come up with an answer.
For instance, if you’re interviewing for an administrative job, the interviewer might ask, “How do you manage projects across different departments?” If you’ve never managed a project like that before, you can say, “Here’s how I might handle a project like this. First, I might meet with the heads of the departments to talk about the project’s goals and ask them to choose team members who will help us reach those goals. Next, I might make a plan for the project and show it to the heads of the different departments to see what they think. I could hold regular meetings during the project to talk about how things are going and make changes as needed.”
3. Show you are willing to learn.
If the interviewer talks about a concept or method you don’t know much about, you can tell them how you could improve your skills. This could happen if you are interviewing for a job in a different field or with a different kind of company. If you don’t have a lot of skills, you can make up for it by showing the hiring manager that you’re willing to learn. Hiring managers often pick people who can learn quickly because they may care more about their work.
For example, if you are interviewing for an administrative job in a health care facility and don’t know what software platform the company uses, you could say, “I am glad you asked me what I knew about Platform X. Even though I’ve used a different software platform in the past, I’m interested in learning more about the one your facility uses to keep patient records and do administrative work. I’m good at picking up new skills and learn quickly, so I’m sure I can figure out how to use Platform X quickly.”
How can you give good answers to hard questions?
You may know the answer to some questions, but it may be hard to say it in a clear way. Here are three ways you can answer tough interview questions with confidence:
1. Prepare for your interview.
If a candidate prepares for an interview, they may be able to answer hard questions faster and better because they remember skills and accomplishments that could help them. Getting ready for an interview can also make you feel more confident, which could be a plus. When getting ready for an interview, you might read the job description and match the skills listed to things you’ve done or jobs you’ve had in the past. So, when the interviewer asks about those parts of the job, you can talk about what you did by giving examples from your resume and cover letter.
You could also learn more about the company and the industry it works in as you prepare for your interview. You can guess what kinds of questions the interviewer might ask if you know what the company stands for and how it wants to grow. For example, if you look at a company’s website and see that their mission statement mentions innovation several times, you might be ready to answer questions about how you have used innovation at work. You could write down the creative projects you’ve led or the unique ways you’ve solved problems.
2. Request some time to think.
When an interviewer asks you a hard question, you can ask for a short break so you can think of a good answer. Interviewers often expect candidates to think about their answers to more in-depth questions, and asking for some time can show them that you’re giving the question careful thought. Asking for a moment to think can be especially helpful in a phone interview, since the interviewer can’t see your body language or facial expressions and has to rely on what you say to figure out how interested you are in the process.
You could rephrase the question and say, “Give me a minute to think about that.” Then you can wait a minute or two before you answer. This shows the interviewer that you have something to say and gives you time to think of the best way to say it. If you can’t think of a response after some time, you could ask to come back to the question.
3. Spell out the question
Some interview questions are hard to answer because they can mean more than one thing. If you don’t understand what the interviewer is asking, you can ask them to explain. For example, if the interviewer asks, “Tell me about your favorite team-building exercises,” you could ask, “Do you mean team-building for a specific project or exercises for getting to know new teammates?”
You can give yourself more time to think of a response and figure out exactly what the interviewer means by asking clarifying questions. If you ask for more information, the interviewer might give you examples that can help you think of your own answer. Asking these kinds of questions can also show the interviewer that you’re interested in the job, which could help you get hired.
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