You can prepare for an interview until you are blue in the face and still get stumped on a question during the process. It is okay, it happens to a lot of people. Some questions come out of left field, sometimes you draw a blank, and others – you really don’t know what to say. Here is a brief run down of what you can do in these three situations.
A (Seemingly) Off Topic Question – These may be thrown in to the interview out of curiosity by the interviewer or to gauge your knowledge on a certain subject. It is not a reason to dismiss the question though and not pay it the care and attention you would to any other one. Do your best, and if you really can’t figure out the correlation between the question and the job you are applying to, you can ask at the end of the interview – along the lines, “out of curiosity….”
You Draw a Blank – Ask for a minute to compose your answer, and do some fast brainstorming. If you feel that the silence is becoming uncomfortable, you can ask to come back to the question at the end of the interview. As long as you do go back to it, this is an acceptable solution. Silence is okay during an interview when you are trying to think of an answer, do not feel obligated to fill the silence, concentrate on the answer you want to give.
You Don’t Know What to Say – If it is a matter that you are sure what the interviewer is looking for in an answer, ask for clarification. Sometimes asking for an example of what they mean can guide you in what you should say. If you take a shot in the dark, you might provide what they want – but why take the chance?