Dumb Questions Do Exist

Whoever came up with “there’s no such thing as a dumb question” lied. Dumb questions most certainly exist. I know because I’ve been on the receiving end of my fair share of them for years.

It’s not that the individual having a question is dumb. It is more the individual’s choice to pose a question to me when, strategically, they could easily obtain the information by other means and use their time with me to discuss more valuable content.

Many job seekers take the time to make sure the questions they ask in interviews are meaningful. Most now know asking about things they could have researched themselves, like asking what the company does, is taboo. The trouble often lies in the conversations people have outside of the interview room. The same courtesy isn’t afforded. These could be conversations with networking sources, family members, friends, co-workers, supervisors, mentors, professors…the list goes on.

We’ve become a culture of immediate gratification. I suspect that’s part of the reason many have become sloppy detectives. When a question pops in our head, we blurt it out without first asking ourselves if the information is something we could get on our own, or considering what we might miss out on discussing with the individual because we’ve used their time to drill them on basic stuff.

I’ll tell you a secret, it drives most people nuts when they can’t cover more meaningful things, things that need to be addressed, because others are laying the responsibility to help them get up to speed on the basics on their shoulders.

It has become the norm to expect those who are more knowledgeable to come down to the speed or level of those less knowledgeable. That’s a huge tactical error. All learn more from others when the knowledgeable person is able to talk about big picture concepts and leave it to those attempting to learn something to research the minutia. Consider the following. No one in his right mind would spend time with Steve Jobs asking him to explain what a gigabyte is or to share the new color options for the iPhone. These are the kinds of questions Google is waiting to help people with. Use it!

My challenge to everyone is to start taking notes of questions you have as they come, no matter who you are talking with. Doesn’t matter if it’s a physical note or mental note. The second thing you need to do is take stock of those you are speaking with when questions pop up. Pretend, although it’s not really pretending, you have a limited supply of information you could possibly get from each person. Weigh the questions you have and consider if posing them to that person, at that time, is really the best use of the situation. All involved will thank you for doing so!

Let me close this message by assuring those I’m working with that I love questions. I really and truly do. I would gladly answer questions all day long. Like everyone else, my time is limited. I feel I have so much to share, so much to offer, if you let me. The goal is to get you working a.s.a.p. That means you need your A game in terms of making the best use of every interaction you have with people. If you’ve got bad habits in terms of firing basic questions at me, you’re likely doing the same with others. It significantly limits what you have the potential to learn and slows down progress. Don’t squander time spent with others. Don’t treat any contact like your own personal Google search engine.


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