Another Handful of Tips 74 – Questioning Skills
Five of the best tips to improve the way you ask questions
The ability to question appropriately and to listen carefully to the answers are essential skills for you to have a successful career.
Without the right question you will never get the right answer.
1. Put the person at ease first
Start with comfortable questions to put the person at ease. Chat and begin by asking questions that are simple and easy to answer.
2. Ask direct open-ended questions
Open-ended questions invite a longer reply and aim to get people talking. “What did you like best about the office party last week?” A closed question will get you only a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ response. “Did you attend the party last week?”
3. Keep your questions simple
Professional interviewers use simple questions such as ‘what’, ‘why’, ‘when’, where’, how’, who’ and ‘how much’. Perhaps best remembered by learning a simple verse from Kipling’s “The Elephant Child”.
” I keep six honest serving men
(they taught me all I knew)
Their names were What and Why and When
And Where and How and Who.”
4. Try some ‘suppose’, ‘probe’ and ‘agreement’ questions
“If you were the boss. What things would you change?”
“You said you were not happy with your working conditions. Why is that?”
“What made you say that?”
“That sounds a good idea. So you think we could do things better. Tell us how.”
“How would you like a job in another department? Would that suit you?”
5. Pause after asking your question
By keeping quiet you put the onus to respond on the other person. Never answer your own question.
Summarise and repeat the answer given. Give your interpretation of the answer given. This allows the other person a chance to amplify, to explain why they said what they said and to make any alterations.
Avoid evaluating answers but express your gratitude for the response to your question. An unexpected or a vague answer is often valuable as it could indicate you have a communication problem
“Don’t be frightened to ask questions. They are easier to handle than mistakes.”
Source: “Persuasive Ways. ‘Tricks of the trade’ to get your ideas across”. First published by Moss Associates Ltd., New Zealand and in Chinese by the Shanghai People’s Publishing House, the Singapore Institute of Management, Kogan Page Ltd, U.K and in Hungarian by Bagolyvar Konyvkiado. Also published as the “Secrets of Persuasion” by Cengage Learning Asia and as an e-book and sold by Amazon.com.