Thursday, June 21, 2012

Great Question!

The uncreative mind can spot wrong answers, but it takes a very creative mind to spot wrong questions. ~ Anthony Jay

Out of the blue today I found myself in the middle of someone else's blog. Paul Hassing writes a very nice blog over on MYOB and today the topic was on interview questions. You'll find that here .

Questions are funny things. Not all questions are equal when it comes to getting down to the nuts and bolts of why you asked the question in the first place!

So what makes a good question?

The first place to go when you want a good question to ask someone else - is yourself. What purpose is there in asking the question? What is it that you really want to know? What's important about this question? What will knowing the answer give you?

Critique Your Own Questions
  • What is the purpose of the questions I will ask at this interview?
  • What precisely am I looking to understand by asking these questions?
  • Does this question align with that purpose?
  • Does this question have a trap set in it?
  • Will this question put my candidate in a position where they have to guess what I want and just tell me what I want to hear?
  • Is there a better way to ask this question?
  • Is there a different question that would be more useful?
  • I really need to know the answer to this question because... (insert answer)
  • What's my objective means of measuring the responses to the questions that I ask?
How we ask questions and the quality of our questions is just one aspect. The next hurdle is in interpreting the answers that we receive.

When you ask questions that are not concrete with measurable, quantifiable, or verifiable answers then you are out in no-man's land without a compass. You have to translate that answer into something that is meaningful for you and that can leave a wide gap between what the person meant when they responded and what you thought they meant when you heard it.

Facebook Foolish

Which brings me to another issue that is more and more a factor in hiring and that is checking Facebook and social media platforms. In the same way, the information that may surface (leaving aside legalities and ethics) is subject to interpretation. Not everything that you see online is real or true and not every situation that looks bad on social platform, tells you anything about the ability of that person to show up and perform  in an excellent manner in the specific role for which they have applied.

Indeed, the worry is that many who are vetting the sites for this information may have little or no experience of the online environment and no knowledge of how to reasonably make judgment about work suitability or competency, based on irrelevant information from a completely different non working environment.

Over time we have been reminded that 'we don't know what we don't know'. Just as tricky, is separating what we assume we know, from what we just think we know.

Ask yourself if you really have done enough to know your questions are the best ones to get you the information you want to know and that this is information that you also need to know.  Make sure you are not asking a bunch of questions that don't further your purpose while failing to ask the questions that really do matter.

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Paul Hassing said...

Dear Lindy, our interaction today certainly was fruitful. Your extraordinary comment on that post required a suitable response. This ended up being longer than the original piece! It was hard work addressing so many salient points. But you took our debate to a valuable new level. So, thank you for that. And thank you for this excellent post, which I will immediately recommend as further reading. Best regards, Paul. :)

lindyasimus said...

Thanks Paul. It was a good prompt for me to cover off on some things that I'd been meaning to for a while. Nothing like a good catalyst!


Chuck said...

I an reading a good book on my "new" Kindle (boy, am I getting with it, up to date and all that jazz?)
"The Art of Asking" by Terry Fadem. Goes into some depth about the process...
The only thing I know for sure is my whole life has been days full of questions, and successful consequences

lindyasimus said...

One of the great advantages of learning NLP - for those who really absorb the detail - is the languaging aspects that really does make for a better clarity in our thinking processes and our ability to listen effectively.

Too often we ask questions that don't matter, neglect the ones that do and spend our listening time thinking about what we want to say next, instead of what the other person is saying - or not saying. Their use of language is also a key to understanding what they are thinking at an unconscious level, as well as the words they speak. That's very useful to comprend.