You will never progress to a top job until you have learned to ask hard questions. A skillful questioner learns much.
Don’t be frightened to ask questions. They are easier to handle than mistakes.
Without the right question you will never get the right answer.
Five of the best tips to improve the way you ask questions
* Don’t be in a hurry
Put the person at ease first.
Start with comfortable questions. Chat and begin by asking questions that are simple and easy to answer. “Where did you go to school?” “Where did you grow up?”
* Ask direct open-ended questions
Open-ended questions invite a longer reply and aim to get people talking. “What did you like about the office social last week?” A closed question will get you only a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ response. “Did you attend the social last week?”
* Keep your questions simple
Professional interviewers use simple questions such as ‘what’, ‘why’, ‘when’, where’, how’, who’ and ‘how much’. Best remembered by learning a simple verse from Rudyard Kipling.
“ 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.”
* Try some ‘suppose’, ‘probe’ and ‘agreement’ questions
“If you were managing. 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.”
” Who does it better?”
“How would you like a job in another department? “
* Pause after asking your question
By keeping quiet you put the onus to respond on the other person. Never answer your own question. This is a great temptation. Don’t make this mistake.
Summarise and repeat the answer given. Give your interpretation of the answer. This allows the other person a chance to amplify, to explain what they said and to make any corrections or 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 may have a communication problem.
Don’t be frightened to ask questions. They are easier to handle than mistakes. Try to judge a person by their questions rather than by their answers.
“Questions are never indiscreet. Answers sometime are.”
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.