Job interviews are nerve-wracking — and that’s putting it lightly. Being in the hot seat can easily fluster the nerves of even the most confident candidates, because there’s no way to know what to expect.

No matter how much you prepare, you still might be asked a question you have absolutely no idea how to answer. The best way to handle this situation is expecting it to happen.

Here’s a few tips to help you provide winning responses to even the trickiest questions.

Think Before You Speak

When asked a question you don’t know how to answer, it’s only natural to panic a bit. If you’re like many people, this will cause you to start rambling immediately. Resist the urge and remain silent for a beat or two. The interviewer doesn’t expect you to reply the instant they stop talking, so give yourself a second to silently review what you’re going to say.

Share Your Thought Process

If your mind goes blank, take your response one step at a time.

For example, if you’re asked how you stay calm under pressure, but you don’t actually have a set technique, formulate your answer in pieces. Think back to the last time you were in a trying situation at work, and walk the interviewer through it. Briefly explain the circumstances, how you maintained your cool, and the outcome.

When you know how to craft a compelling answer, you don’t have to go into the interview with a script.

Shift the Topic

Hopefully this won’t happen, but if you’re asked a question you have no clue how to answer, try to suavely change the subject. For example, if you’re asked about your familiarity with a skill you don’t possess, highlight a related skill you do have. This might satisfy the interviewer, or at least shift their focus enough to move on to the next question without revisiting the issue.

Prepare a Fallback Response

Ease your mind by going into the interview with a response you can give if the going gets rough. Craft this reply by conducting research on the company that can be used to make you appear engaged and informed.

If you’re asked a question you have absolutely no idea how to answer, explain you’re not familiar with the topic yet, but it’s something you’re interested in learning more about. Then segue into the research you’ve conducted on the company, and use it to show your enthusiasm for the position.

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