The Interview Question You Don’t Want to Answer

Is there an interview question you’d just prefer not to answer? Or perhaps you need a strategy to fall back on if an interview question stumps you or upsets you – that can happen, right?

One option open to you is what might be called the graceful sidestep. Politicians do this all the time –answering questions in ways that address the topics they want to talk about. If you use this strategy, be sure to be polite and non-defensive. Here’s how:

Before the interview, decide on two or three “selling points” to emphasize – information about you that shows how well you could do this job. Ask yourself, when the interview’s over, what do I want the interviewer to be thinking about me?

If the interviewer asks a question that either stumps you, or that could compromise your selling points, you can respond with a graceful sidestep. For example, if the interviewer asks:

Tell me about a time when you failed to meet a deadline?

You have the option to gracefully sidestep the question, and even to get back to a selling point:

You know, I can’t really think of a time when I didn’t meet a deadline, but I can tell you about a time when meeting a deadline posed a big challenge – would you like to hear about that?

If the interviewer responds positively – and they probably will – you can tell an accomplishment story that you’ve prepared.

If you don’t have a relevant story to offer, you may want to just politely decline to answer:

You know, I can’t think of a time when I missed a deadline.

For more resources and advice on how to tackle any interview question that may come your way, check out Career Coaching by InsideTrack.

InsideTrack offers dedicated Career Coaches and interactive content modules to support your career success in a flexible and personalized format. To learn more, visit

By InsideTrack Career Coaching
InsideTrack Career Coaching