Asking the right questions

Gaining clarity about a task or situation, or having a better understanding of something in the business, is necessary to effectively do your job.




Jade Green

Never be afraid to ask questions. Gaining clarity about a task or situation, or having a better understanding of something in the business, is necessary to effectively do your job.

Asking questions is encouraged in the workplace, it not only shows you are motivated to do your job and are curious, but questions may pertain to tasks that are assigned to you, clarifying requirements or even certain expectations from your supervisor. It is essential that you continue asking questions in order to ensure the efficient transfer of information and a solid foundation for communication within your team.

There can be an art to asking the right questions though, to ensure you get sufficient information and the facts you need in order to carry on.

Avoid closed questions

For example “Would you like me to complete this task?”

Closed questions are ones that result in you receiving a yes or no response. They don’t provide an adequate amount of information which is extremely vital in the workplace, particularly early on. Since your placement is all about learning and gaining ample knowledge and experience, ask questions in a way that provides you with all the information you need.

Lean towards open-ended questions

For example “How would you like me to complete this task?”

Open-ended questions require more than a yes or no response and you will gain much more detail from the answer. This will give you an insight into your deliverables during your placement and help you understand your supervisors or host company’s expectations. This type of question helps you to either clarify, gain more understanding or understand the ‘why’ behind a statement or request. Let’s delve into these a little more.

Clarifying questions

For example “Based on the brief you provided, would you like me to follow the same structure or restructure it?”

Clarifying questions help you understand what has been said or instructed more clearly. These questions indicate your understanding of the task that was given to you previously and help you gain more information about certain aspects that may have not been covered extensively.

Adjoining questions

For example “Would you like me to restructure? Is there an agenda I need to follow?”

Adjoining questions are used to explore parts of a task or problem that may not have been discussed during an initial conversation. They can help you understand the purpose and impact of the task in a broader context.

Funnelling questions

For example “Was there a reason why you chose this structure for this task?”

Funnelling questions are used to challenge assumptions and cross-examine certain procedures. They can help clarify why certain methods or strategies were previously utilised and even improve them if required.

Elevating questions

For example “How will this task help us reach the overall objective?”

Elevating questions give you a holistic view of the issue or the objective. It is easy to obsess over the tiny details and forget about the bigger picture while completing a task. These questions can help you refocus and stay on track with your tasks which will eventually lead to achieving the overall goal of the project.


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