How do I ask good questions?
It can be much more powerful than a pitch because a great question contains the same as a good pitch: It demonstrates academic competencies and it relates to the recipient’s area of interests or academic field. However, a question contains more than a pitch because it initiates a dialogue and an opportunity for both of you to learn something and bring your knowledge and skills to the table.
Having good questions ready is therefore very beneficial – both if you have to pose them to company representatives, your professors, or even yourself.
But it's difficult, and it takes both practice and research to be able to ask good questions. Here, we will help you get started.
What characterises a good question?
Here are some suggestions for how a good question might look like. It is not a final list, but perhaps it might inspire you to ask better questions in the future.
A good question...
- Originates preferably from a genuine wonder
- Is exact
- Is relevant
- Invites reflection
- Must be interesting for the recipient
- Puts the recipient in a good light as the person who has the answer – without portraying your own ”ignorance”
- Might not be answered but can help lead to a better counter question
- Does not have a too obvious answer
You might also have a different purpose with asking the question that lies outside the scope of the question itself. Perhaps you wish to initiate a dialogue with someone you would like to get in touch with. You can also use a good question to keep a conversation going.
Being able to pose an interesting question is a very valuable skill no matter what situation you are in – e.g. at uni, when you are looking for a job, or when you meet new people.
How do I make use of good questions?
You have to demonstrate your skills and competencies e.g. when you talk to a potential future employer or project collaborator. Therefore, you have to show your knowledge about the academic field and situation of the company with the questions you ask. The unspoken information that serves as a foundation for a good question will highlight your skills.
How do I get started?
Research is the best foundation for a good question – as with so many other things.
Before you begin, it is a good idea to gather as much information as possible about the person or company you wish to ask something. You will often become even more curious as soon as you know just a little, and then the questions might pop up by themselves.
How can I give good answers to questions myself?
Spark reflection and ideas in your mind by asking yourself some questions.
You will be able to give better answers to questions from others, when you are able to ask yourself better questions. So, get started and begin talking to yourself.
Where can I learn more?
Get a guidance session with AAU Career
Throughout your time as a student at AAU, you can get free career guidance on everything to do with your career. You may be in doubt about what you can do with your education, how you can put your competencies into words, or perhaps you need professional eyes on your CV.