New graduates today are facing some of the best job prospects in eight years, but that doesn't mean landing the job is easy. With out-of-control student debt and more competition than ever, today's young graduates must be both determined to get a job and ready for a long road ahead.
Part of the job process is going on interviews--lots of them. But one of the biggest insecurities new graduates face is lack of experience, especially since that is one of the main qualifications employers look for in a candidate.
If you're going on job interviews, this feeling that you don't have any experience could cloud your confidence and ability share what you do know. It could also make you blurt out something you don't want to say.
But the one thing you should never say in an interview is this: "I don't know."
Remember that not knowing an answer to an interview question doesn't mean you aren't smart or right for the job. Not knowing is an opportunity to demonstrate humility and curiosity.
Here are five other phrases to say instead:
1. "That is new to me. Would you mind sharing more information related to the question?"
Most interviewers are more than happy to elaborate on their questions and even start a discussion. When you are able to break away from the constant question-answer cycle and start a deeper conversation, that shows your interviewer that you are truly engaged and serious about the opportunity.
2. "I haven't had that exact experience before, but I have demonstrated that skill in a different way, for example..."
Consider your entire college and life experience, and extract examples of projects, reports, or classes where you learned something relative to the question. You can extract examples of many skills from almost any previous job or life experience.
3. "That's fascinating, This is not something I have researched or done before, but it's really interesting to me and I am very curious to learn everything about it."
Be honest about your experience, but give it a positive spin. Demonstrate your willingness to learn and put yourself out there. With many questions, the interviewer is just trying to gauge your comfortability in certain situations. Assure them that while you may not have had much experience in something, you are eager for the challenge.
4. "That topic is not something that is in line with my interests or what motivates me. I believe this organization is a great cultural fit and the mission is in line with my own personal mission. Perhaps we can find a role that leverages my strengths, where I can have an impact that is highly motivating to me and beneficial to the company."
In any job interview, it is great to show that you are dedicated to finding the right fit. You may feel pressured to take any job that comes your way, but know that it is better for you in the long run if you are careful about your opportunities and choose jobs that are truly in line with what you want to do. Potential employers will respect this.
5. "That is so interesting. I am usually up to speed on that topic, but for some reason I may have missed that particular aspect of it. How important is knowing that for this role? Do you think that it's something that can be learned? I love learning, and am happy to share some examples of other projects or jobs where I had to learn on the job."
Speak up about what you do know. Don't discount related experience, even if it is not directly answering the question. Do, however, come back to the original question and point out your willingness to engage with what you don't know.