11 months ago
April 6, 2023

How To Respond To Interview Questions You Don’t Know The Answer To

No matter how much sales job interview preparation your do, there is always the chance that you’ll get asked a question that you don’t know the answer to. It can…

Claire McConnachie Recruiter
Claire McConnachie

No matter how much sales job interview preparation your do, there is always the chance that you’ll get asked a question that you don’t know the answer to. It can happen to even the most experienced sales professionals. There are many interviewers out there who like to ask unique job interview questions to see how you will think on your feet.

But as a candidate, getting asked a question you have no idea how to answer can be one of your biggest fears.  So, what do you do if you find yourself in this situation?

Our sales recruiters offer some advice on how to approach this potentially stressful situation:

1. First things first – don’t panic!

Many candidates might feel like panicking when they get asked a question they don’t know how to respond to. But avoid doing so. Instead, take a deep breath, and remain calm and composed. It’s okay to not know everything. Give yourself a few seconds to collect your thoughts and then proceed to give your best answer.

2. Ask the interviewer to clarify the question

If you don’t understand the question, ask the interviewer to rephrase it or provide more context. This will give you a better understanding of what they’re looking for. It will also give you more time to start to formulate a good answer to the question. Take your time to answer.

shocked sales person

3. Show your thought process by thinking aloud

Even if you don’t know the answer, you can demonstrate your critical thinking skills by talking through how you would approach the problem. The best way to do this is to think aloud. Explain your thought process as you work through your answer. This will show the interviewer how you problem-solve and how you are adept at thinking on your feet.

4. Use your answer to redirect

You could use redirection as a strategy to answer challenging questions. You can do this by answering as best you can and then redirecting your response to a top that you know well.

5. Answering honestly

It’s better to be upfront and honest that you don’t know the answer rather than trying to fake it. You can say, “I’m not entirely sure, but I would approach it by…”

Once you get time to reflect post-interview, if you are not happy with your response, you can reevaluate and provide a more detailed answer when you follow up and thank the interviewer. Doing this shows you care and are willing to put in extra effort to make a good impression.

Get More Sales Job Interview Tips On Our Blog

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SalesForce Search is a sales recruitment agency that specializes in hiring sales rockstars. Hiring top salespeople is tough. Only 55% meet their quota. Our proactive approach recruits talented salespeople before they hit the market. As North America’s leading sales headhunter we recruit salespeople in every sector of the economy including, software, manufacturing, financial services and medical devices. To find your next sales rockstar, start your search here.

Claire McConnachie Recruiter

Claire McConnachie

Claire has 4+ years of experience in sales and recruitment. As a Director of Client Services, her main objective is to connect great people to great companies by building strong relationships with both top clients and candidates in the sales industry. She specializes in sales roles of all seniority levels for both enterprise and start-up clients North American wide. When Claire isn't networking with top talent, she enjoys being outdoors, traveling and spending time with friends & family.

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