Last Updated on February 28, 2024 by Ketan
We can relate to your frustration with saying ‘I don’t know’ at work.
You don’t want to look any less confident in the interview or a team meeting.
And, admitting you don’t know about something is embarrassing.
But, that doesn’t mean that you’ve to act like you know everything.
In a professional context, you say it confidently and intelligently.
So, what we are discussing here is- some professional ways to say “I don’t know” at the workplace, without looking clueless.
How To Say “I Don’t Know” Professionally?
It’s uncomfortable to admit that you don’t know the answer in an interview.
And, that’s the same when your coworker or boss asks about work-related matters.
Something that, you’ve no idea about it.
But this is more challenging when a client asks for some update and you’ve nothing to say.
Here, saying ‘I don’t know’ is not acceptable at all.
If you say it clearly, you could appear unprepared, unaware, and unprofessional.
That’s why to make it easier, here are the best ways to say ‘I don’t know’ in a formal situation.
Intelligent Ways To Say “I Don’t Know” At Interview
It’s a pressure to look perfect at a job interview.
But sometimes, the interviewer may ask a question that’s completely new to you.
Here, you could say ‘I don’t know’.
But, that could make you look unprepared.
In this situation, take a smart approach and say ‘I don’t know’ intelligently to show that you are ready to learn.
1. “I am aware of this topic. But I have no practical experience.”
Simply saying ‘I don’t know’ might damage the impression you made in the interview process.
That’s why you can say that you’ve information about something that they said.
But you have no experience of this theory in real life.
2. “I have some sort of idea, but I’m not sure if they’re true or not.”
You could share what you know about something.
But it’s also a good idea that you inform them that you’re not sure about it.
What you know could be old information or just speculation.
3. “This is kind of new to me. This is something I need to work on.”
You admit that you don’t know about something that the interviewer asked.
This could embarrass you when this happens in a job interview.
But to look confident, you can say this instead of ‘I don’t know’.
4. “I understand your questions, but this is beyond my knowledge and experience.”
The hiring company follows the latest systems and techniques to do something.
That you heard for the first time here.
Or, you didn’t get what they just said.
So, you make it clear that you don’t know about it, but you don’t try to look perfect.
5. “I have no idea about it. Glad you updated me about this.”
This is regarding the new techniques or the latest news about the industry you work in.
First, the interviewer asked about it.
But when you have no answers to that they give some idea about it.
So you admit that you don’t know about it, in a confident tone.
But also happy that you learned something new.
6. “I know this is part of the same field, but in our present company we follow different methods.”
When you’re a fresher or this is your first interview, you can reply this way.
This shows your approach to a willingness to learn something.
You’re not uncomfortable accepting that you don’t know about some theories of concept.
But, you ask for their feedback, because they’ve more experience.
READ NEXT: How To Reply To ‘I Will Try To Make It’?
Other Ways To Say “I Don’t Know” At The Workplace
in a team meeting, your coworkers or your boss asks you about something.
And, you have no idea about it.
Saying it directly ‘I don’t know’ shows you’re unsure about your work.
So, here are other ways to say that you don’t know about something right now.
But, if you’ve given some time, you can explain or update it more clearly.
1. “Let me do my analysis and get back to you with a report.”
If you can’t update about something perfectly, don’t share assumptions.
When your boss asks about your work or something, instead of saying ‘I don’t know’, you can say this.
You can ask for some time to make a proper report.
This could be better for your job, too.
2. “This is an unusual situation. I need some time to come up with a solution.”
You’re experiencing it for the first time now.
But you don’t want to sound clueless about it to your manager. That you don’t know what to do.
So you can take your time, and understand it well.
That helps you to create valid ideas.
3. “Even I’m surprised how I can miss this detail. Thanks for drawing my attention.”
Your senior coworker asks you questions about the work you handle.
They are testing your knowledge and just checking how work is going.
You don’t know about something or are not sure, which they mention based on their experience.
So, accept that you don’t know, but in such a smart way.
4. “This is actually new for me. Can you help me with that?”
You admit that you had no idea about what they just asked.
Relax, you’re new to this work or just joined the team.
Be normal and ask for their assistance.
Fine, you don’t know but you accept that it matters.
Professional Ways To Say “I Don’t Know” To Clients
Even if you don’t know something, saying it to a client is not good for your professional relationship.
You can’t leave them in the dark. They rely on you.
So when you tell them so clearly, this could hurt your credibility.
You need to say it differently.
Here are formal ways to say “I don’t know” to avoid sounding unprofessional or inexperienced.
1. “I’m not the right person to handle this kind of query. Sorry.”
Your clients expect you to be perfect in everything.
That’s not possible.
Also, it’s not good to explain them.
So when your client comes to you with queries that are out of your area, you can say this.
2. “I know someone in my team, who can help you better in this case. Let me forward your email to them.”
Well, you can just say ‘That’s not my job’, but you know, you can’t say it.
So instead of just letting clients feel hopeless, you assist them.
This is beyond your expertise and you don’t know what else to do.
3. “Give me some time to get back to you with an update.”
Working with this client, you know that they’re impatient and want everything to be perfect.
The fact is, you don’t know what to do in some situations.
So, you need some support from your seniors here.
In the backend, you get some expert help in such a case to resolve the situation. And share the update with a client as it is.
4. “Sorry, but it’s confidential information. I don’t have access to that.”
You’re there to answer every question from your client.
But now what they asked is just beyond your area and reach.
Obviously, you don’t know about something, that’s too beyond your responsibility.
Before the client questions your role, you say it clearly.
‘What do you mean you don’t know? It’s part of your job, you should know about it.’
This is what you will get if you clearly say ‘I don’t know’ at work.
Your client, customer, coworker, boss, and even interviewers, they all want you to be perfect. And know everything.
No matter what you do, you can’t ever be perfect.
So, it’s good that you have some professional and intelligent ways to say ‘I don’t know’ that don’t make you look incompetent for the work.
Saying you don’t know isn’t acceptable in the formal connection.
When you have to look confident and perfect in your work, you can use these other ways you say ‘I don’t know’ to prevent any questions about your skills and experience.