A friend of a friend has on multiple occasions aggressively asked how my self-study for software engineering interviews is going. Most recently I answered very briefly, because I find it too nosy and the person to be arrogant and presumptuous. I don't like for example that he's convinced that I seem too calm about the job interview preparation process and that I don't push myself hard enough.

Initially I just listened to him rant over the phone, and after he realized he was doing all the talking he then asked for my input and I answered honestly. Then he would "check in" with me over Messenger or when I ran into him at a party it would be the first topic of conversation. Since he didn't change, one thing I did when he was doing the same to someone else right in front of me was I asked "What do you mean?" and he simply acknowledged he was rambling. I've been distancing myself from him as of late which is tricky since he's in a few of my friend groups - I have no desire to "win."

How do I convey that I'm not interested in him essentially interrogating me and opining in career-related matters?

  • 5
    Have you tried simply telling him you don't want to discuss this topic/don't want advice? If so, how'd it go? If not, why not?
    – Kat
    Commented Nov 11, 2019 at 19:11
  • I just did and it was a positive experience. He asked sincerely if he should stop discussing the topic and giving advice, and I said it would be appreciated. It was written and maybe he was slighted by it, but he also mentioned that he would've liked if he received advice earlier in his career and we arrived at mutual understandings.
    – Curious
    Commented Nov 12, 2019 at 7:56

2 Answers 2


It sounds like you have already figured out this person's motivation for asking you questions - they want to give you advice. "Advice-giver" is a recognised personality trait, and many do it for their own ego gratification.

As the opportunity to give advice is evidently what is prompting the questions, if you stop fuelling him by answering them, the advice will hopefully stop.

This article on Psychology Today suggests various ways of dealing with nosy people. Two of those ways are:

  1. Tell the truth
    This could be the best approach if you don't want to be rude to the person. Answer their questions, but severely limit what you tell them. If they ask how it is going, you could just say "it's going great, thanks". Give yes/no answers to their questions if you think that will cut him short. If he persists then you could cut it short by saying something like "that's a lot of questions, shall we talk about something else?"

  2. Deflection If you are comfortable being more direct in telling them that you don't want to talk about this, this approach is about not answering any questions at all. Change the subject - perhaps say "I'm bored with study, I'd rather talk about something else".

Other techniques include stating your discomfort about the questions, but that may send the message that your self-study is not going too well, and that may not be the message you want to send.

Ultimately though, not allowing an 'advice-giver' to give you advice is like starving them of their oxygen. They will not be interested in pursuing you for answers if they aren't getting what they want out of it.

  • 1
    That's a really interesting article about people who insist on giving advice. I might use it to post an answer to my question about getting a spouse to listen instead of immediately doling out advice. (Or you could post one if you like and you have experience dealing with that sort of person effectively. I'll grab you a link if you're interested.)
    – Kat
    Commented Nov 11, 2019 at 19:10
  • It's a cultural thing as well. Where I grew up the normal thing was that you give advice, because it shows that you care. On the other hand, when you are given al that advice, you are grateful for it and then you do exactly what you want and not what someone tells you. And everyone is happy. And then I moved and people found giving advice extremely rude, but also somehow thought that they had to listen to advice.
    – gnasher729
    Commented Nov 11, 2019 at 20:33

From the way you describe it in your question, it sounds to me like you're already dealing with the situation perfectly well.

As you yourself have said: you let them ramble on, you were honest with them when asked for feedback, then later you distanced yourself from them.

It sounds like you have already "convey[ed] that [you're] not interested in him essentially interrogating [you] and opining in career-related matters".

It also sounds like this person is just one of the many random people you'll run into in your life. This guy could be an arrogant loudmouth, or he could be clumsily and unsuccessfully trying to make friends; we can't know.

In short: keep on doing what you're doing - he'll get the message and leave you alone.

If you don't feel that's good enough - that you've already tried the polite approach - then you can more forcefully reiterate your disinterest, or simply ignore them and go and talk to someone else. You're not obliged to entertain every person who wants to talk at you, after all.

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