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Good Q/Bad Q

Here we go. The best questions to uncover information are those that allow you to get into the details of the situation. This post is going to outline three types of questions and where you could potentially use them. The three types of questions are:

1. Chit-Chat
2. Thinking
3. Feeling

One of the best questions to open up conversation on a topic is the general all purpose type of question which can be used to open up dialog or make “Chit-Chat.” I like this one because it is used many time to begin a discussion with a person whom you really don’t know. Asking about the weather or a location or a current event or a sports team is a good way to begin to engage a person. If you get the right question going, be careful not to let it go on too long. The reason for this is due to you may not get a chance to uncover the real issues the following two types of questions will uncover.

A second type of question is the “What do you think about….” type. This line of questioning helps you line up the logical side of a person’s perspective on an issue. You are not asking how someone really feels about a situation but what they think about it. This thinking about it may take the form of highlighting a problem or a success. It is typically not an uncomfortable type question to ask or answer because it is somewhat non threatening. Use this type of question to learn more about someone’s experience level in a particular area or to determine if it is a “hot button” you should try to overcome. File the answer to this type of questioning for future use as well.

The last type of question is the standard “How do you feel about …” type questions. What this feelings type question does is open up the door to what someone really thinks about a situation. When you ask a feeling question, you are stepping over the line a bit to see how open a person is about their perspective. If you get a confused and rambling answer, you may have gone with this question too soon. If you get an ignored answer whereby someone ignores the meat of the question and answers something totally different, this is a closed door. File this info away for later in a conversation. I don’t believe this question is wrong to ever ask, but the way a person answers it will guide your conversation. So a feelings question should help you assess where someone might want to go.

The last two questions about Thoughts and Feelings should give you the information needed to highlight what you have to offer in response to them. So what is the best way to use these types of questions? Start with the Chit-Chat one to break into a good conversation. Follow it with the Thinking question. Lastly, gage the conversation with the Feelings question. The Feelings question can be inserted throughout the conversation. Just do it judiciously as it might be too intrusive to some interviewers.

During an interview or discussion, you should stay in partial control of the conversation. It is not a control thing but a selling thing. If you don’t get a chance to ask questions to uncover issues, then how do you present yourself in the most effective way? You cannot!

The best way to show you are going to ask questions is to do it right off the bat. After you introduce yourself, start right into an Chit-Chat question regarding the person’s job or the company or the city or whatever. This also takes some of the pressure off of you during the most crucial time of an interview; the first 3 to 5 minutes. Start questioning right from the start so it doesn’t seem so awkward later.

If you cannot get a question in before an interview starts for some reason, spend some time talking and answering their questions about you for about 10 minutes. This will give an interviewer a brief overview of you and some of your skills. At around 10 minutes, try to ask a good Thinking question to their perspective. A good way to break into your question is to say “May I ask you a question or two about the job you are interviewing me for?” Most interviewers will be happy to allow you to ask a couple questions at this point. Write down a couple in notebook and bring it with you. This may give you some comfort during the discussion.

I love this job. I really love when things work out for my clients. I sometimes put too much emphasis on the plight of job seekers and feel some of the pain and emotional struggle to find what you are looking for. It is difficult but keep on pushing. Even if you don’t know it, you are learning something more about yourself each and every day. It is painful but every activity will make you better at what you are doing. Also, don’t worry about making a fool of yourself. We all do it, especially me. Someday I will tell you some stories about my Job Search Bloopers.

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Background On Why Good Questions

We talked (or you read) about why asking good questions will help you do a better job at selling yourself or anything else. Now let’s focus on what questions are good ones and which ones are not as productive.

There are many reasons to ask questions when you are involved in a conversation. One reason is to give you a chance to get yourself mentally into a conversation. Some people get nervous with conversations and questions give them some “breathing room” in order to get the butterflies to go away. This is a perfectly good place to use questions. Another general way is to introduce yourself into a conversation you are breaking into. The question begins to build your credibility before you say anything. It is rude during another group’s conversation to just break in and talk about yourself. You will loose almost every time. Some people can get away with it, but the success with this practice is rare.

The most important reason to use the questions is to begin to develop a connection with someone else. The question is the door handle to a great connection room. It is a wonderful experience to have a great conversation with someone or a group of people. The conversation flows like water down a river bed. Along the way there are rocks and sticks and bends to contend with but when a conversation is going well, you almost don’t realize those little things.

This type of great conversation is based on both parties believing the other is interested in them. The interest proceeds to the next level which is commonality. The goal within interview settings is to get to this level. Commonality means that you both have a general intent and desire for a given result. There can be many unknown issues within an organization. These issues are typically hidden from view by experienced managers who conduct interviews. They are hidden until common understanding is achieved. Once you are able to get to this level, a hiring manager MAY open up to discuss a real issue. If that happens, don’t jump at the chance to fix it. Acknowledge it’s existence a do what was explained in the previous post…LISTEN. Fixing the problem is not the answer unless asked. Listening and asking good questions will give you signs on where to go. Always try and stay in check with your mental state while having a productive conversation. The reason is because it may back fire on you for any number of reasons.

The reasons are too numerous to mention but can be a job offer death sentence. Remember to listen even when the going it going very well.

Tomorrow we will discuss some good and bad questions. Stay tuned.

I spent the day mostly developing my short term business strategy. I am fostering three good working relationships and I need to determine where and when they will fit into my time schedule. The coffee today was excellent. I have to slow down on the expresso drinks unless I drink a bunch of H2O because my stomach goes a bit nuts. I had a good Starbucks today and a macchiato…what a great day.

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Two Ears One Mouth; Use Them That Way.

Well I am going to hold off on providing posts with internet resources for finding jobs. Instead I am going to spout off my wisdom from the front line of job searching for a while longer. Why, you ask? Because I feel like it. I am not ready to give away my own personal trade secrets yet. I will someday, just not now. So if you have read a few of my most recent posts and were looking for some tips on where to go for more info (outside of the library) you will have to wait until some other time. Sorry to keep you hanging. On to my wizzzdommm…

A wise man once told me that when it comes to selling anything including yourself for a new job, you have two ears and one mouth; use them that way. What it meant was that listening was MORE important than talking if you want to sell anything to anyone. Yes, it was important to listen more to a buyer than it is to talk about what you are selling.

What a tough concept. Logic states that when I am selling myself in an interview or when I meet someone who I want to work for, I should explain the benefits to my features. That way someone can “find a fit” for me in their company. WRONG, WRONG, WRONG! This is not the way. This is hollow advice from hollow people. The people you are interviewing with won’t try and find a fit for you, they want to make this hiring process much less difficult. Do you fit their bill or not?

It is much more important to ask good questions to uncover clues to why someone wants to buy or hire you. The answers to well planned and thought out questions often unveil someones true intention. It is not sneaky but perceptive. You might be the most knowledgeable or possess the best leadership skills or the best project management skills but if the person I am speaking to is looking for a good hands on technical person, I have lost their interest in me.

There is an art to asking good, well thought out questions. We will get into that probably tomorrow. As a preview, good questions have a genesis in uncovering some hidden “key”. This key, if found can open the door to any job. Questions are the basis of determining where the keys are.

I had two meetings today. It is a great day when I have two. Most days I barely have one. Every meeting I pride myself in doing as I said above; asking more questions than talking. I was able to uncover some real issues with a new client and a new business proposal with a well seasoned recruiter. Let’s see where it leads me.

Two different coffees today. Starbucks half-caf and Jolta Java straight decaf. I like J.J. very much but their decaf stinks. Most places don’t have good decaf. If you have been to J.J. it is a great place to go but drink the jittery stuff or eat the food.

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