How to Not Answer a Question

by Trisha Bartle; Updated September 26, 2017
Avoid answering a question that makes you feel uncomfortable.

Whether during a job interview or through your regular work day, you may be asked questions that you don't want to answer. You may not know the answer to the question, yet you don't want to sound ignorant. Or, the question may feel too personal or inappropriate for a business setting. Whatever the reason, you can successfully avoid answering questions that you don't feel comfortable with.

Step 1

Answer the question with another question. Keep your question friendly and avoid sounding harsh or accusatory. If someone asks when your baby is due, answer with, "Are you thinking of getting pregnant?" By asking a question in reply, you switch the focus back on the other person.

Step 2

Change the subject. Use this method when you can't just walk away from the conversation, such as during a job interview. If you can't think of a good way to change the subject, interject with something of importance. For instance, if someone asks you how old you are, say, "Oh! I almost forgot! Did you get that memo I sent you?" In an interview, remind the interviewer of your resume by answering with, "Did you see my education experience?" The abrupt change of subject should make the person forget the original question.

Step 3

Treat the question as if it were a joke and just laugh it off. This is an especially good method if the question is inappropriate. If a coworker asks if you had a late night at the bar, smile and laugh. If you need to give a spoken reply, say, "Nice one," "That's funny" or "Wouldn't you like to know?"

Step 4

Act as if you don't understand the question. If someone asks if you had a good time on your date, with inappropriate connotations, give an innocent and honest answer instead, such as, "I did. We saw this great action movie. You should see it." Most people will be taken so off guard that you didn't answer the way they wanted that they won't press the issue.

Step 5

Walk away when you have no other option. Excuse yourself by saying that you have work to do or you need to make an important phone call. Use this as a last resort as some people will be offended by your abrupt exit. At work, if someone walks past as the question is asked, excuse yourself, saying that you need to speak to the other person about something important.

Warnings

  • Avoid being rude while avoiding an answer, even if the question was inappropriate. If you feel uncomfortable, report it to your supervisor or human resources.

About the Author

Trisha Bartle began her writing career in 2007, with work appearing in publications such as "Adventures for the Average Woman" and DexKnows Weddings. She has also been a professional wedding photographer since 2001. Bartle holds an Associate of Applied Science in programming and game development.

Photo Credits

  • Tim Klein/Photodisc/Getty Images