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What's Worse Than Not Knowing?

Q: If an interviewer asks a technical question we don't know, how should we respond? Should we talk through some related information or guess?

Don't guess, and don't try to answer a related question. You probably won't get away with it. Doing so entails a significant risk; you show bad judgment and an inability to follow directions. These are both bad character traits.

Generally, these questions are not asked to find out what you know. Instead, they show your interviewer how you approach problem solving, and whether you can piece together the relevant information and come up with the right answer.

If you don't know and come clean, you run the risk of getting a "She should have know that" outcome, but this is far better than showing poor character.

It is important not to panic. Your interviewer will usually give you a hint or two to help you figure it out, and most of these questions can be answered without understanding the specifics of the question.

Are you wondering How to Get Hired? Join the discussion on my Facebook Group Polished and ask me anything you have ever wondered about resumes, cover letters, interviews, and job hunting!


  1. Annie

    Is it a bad sign if the interviewer gives you hints? Thanks for the post btw.

  1. Annie,

    You're welcome. Most interviewers are more concerned about seeing you reason through the question. Giving a hint which gets you thinking shows how you do this.

  1. From a Polished group member on Facebook:

    Hi Scott,

    Thanks for sending this out. I appreciate the tips with interview season coming up... its helpful to have these sent out because a lot of us probably think of these questions but never really bother to ask anyone (or know who to ask). Anyway, just letting you know its appreciated.

  1. I read the article and I really liked it..
    Thanks for the great post..

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