Imagine that your recruitment agency has set up an interview for that job you’ve been waiting for news on… Congratulations would most certainly be in order! Getting an interview means you’ve made it one step closer.

Because there’s a lot at stake, the idea of a job interview can be a daunting one.


Getting stressed interferes with the clear thinking needed to provide thoughtful answers. It’s a negative chain reaction that can lead to sweaty palms, rising blood pressure and a racing heart. But all of these physiological saboteurs can be quelled by breathing deeply, acknowledging the fear and realising that not knowing the answer is perfectly fine. You may be stumped, but in being able to stay calm, you can actively look for the answer instead of feeling helpless.

Feel in control

I always get funny looks when I discuss this trick with people but just think for one second about the physiological factors that were mentioned above. All of these symptoms can be minimised by regaining control and feeling strong and centred. Now….. Bear with me. If we send all of our energy to a large muscle group – such as our thighs or our glutes – the feeling of sickness, of butterflies in our stomachs and fear is dispelled. Try it next time you need to give a presentation or are sat in front of someone feeling a little nervy. If you squeeze your thighs or your bottom cheeks I promise you will feel much calmer. Try it now and see what a difference it makes.

Thinking and being Truthful

Before answering any question, take your time to really think about your answer. Give yourself time. Purely making up an answer is never a good idea and a skilled interviewer will be able to determine this straight away. If you haven’t read a book lately, don’t say you have … as you will more than likely be asked the name of the book and who wrote it.

Focus on Existing Knowledge

It could very well be that you may know something about the answer to a question, even if you don’t know the whole answer. If this is the case, tell the interviewer about your existing knowledge. While you’re communicating what you do know, you may even end up with the answer to the whole question.

When to say “I Don’t Know”

Although it’s an honest response to admit the answer to a question is elusive, there is another option. You can try asking your interviewer to clarify, and then delve deeper into the question see if the answer comes to mind. If you still don’t know the answer, at least you will have made an honest and demonstrable effort to find it.

At the same time, there is also a time to admit that you don’t know. You can tell the interviewer that although you don’t have the answer now, you will try and find the answer and then follow up with it after the interview. Being honest should be seen as a positive and your determination will be noted.

Tricia Hay

Tricia Hay is Owner, Director of First Base Employment Limited