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:
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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