From time to time, no matter how much you prepare, you may find yourself stumped in an interview. Instead of panicking or quickly saying you don’t know, take a step back and stay composed. Think of the reason behind the question; it may be that the interviewer simply wants to understand your familiarity with the topic or they may wish to see how you think and how you handle uncertainty.

Check out these tips on what to do when stumped in an interview:

Take your time. Answering quickly isn’t always the best route to take even if you know the answer. Demonstrate the fact that you’ve put thought into it.

Buy some time. Don’t be afraid to clarify or repeat the question back to them. Even if you understand the question, asking for clarification may buy you enough time to think of an answer.

Don’t make things up. An interview isn’t a written test where it’s better to put down an answer than leave it blank. Be truthful and put thought into your answer.

Process out loud. Many times, interviewers ask difficult questions to see how you think through problems. Don’t be afraid to think aloud and demonstrate your knowledge of the topic.

Be honest. If you really aren’t sure, be honest and then ask the interviewer to explain the answer. Willingness to learn is a great ability to show.

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