Effective Questioning Skills for IT Staff

It takes more than technical knowledge to be able to provide the best solution available for any given situation. Having a clear understanding of the requirements is crucial to meeting them and foreseeing future needs others may have overlooked. These requirements aren’t always clearly stated however. This is where effective questioning benefits Information Technology.

Simply put, you should be able to explain why this solution is the best avenue and what the benefit/cost is using the facts gained from your questions.

Combining different types of questions will help narrow the solution pool and provide you with the opportunity to offer a solution that not only fits the need but also makes you look good for some time when things work out well.

  1. Identify the objective of the conversation.
    1. What should the end result accomplish based on the need?
  2. Ask open ended questions that will help you better understand the situation and any requirements not disclosed when identifying the objective.
  3. Use probing questions to narrow down vague items with close ended questions getting to the specifics.
  4. Run through the information gathered with the user to ensure both that you understood and they communicated to you correctly.
  5. If there are additional features/ requirements that you feel are important to the situation at hand, this would be the time to discuss them.
    1. It’s important not to dive into these earlier since it can often sidetrack the user from their thought process causing items to be overlooked.
  6. If possible step away from the user gathering your thoughts and do any research required.
    1. Review the original objective against the solution, things can get off topic quickly
  7. When bringing the proposed solution to the user always discuss the features that are relative to the current circumstance first.
    1. Features that are a direct benefit to their current work habits can follow.
    2. You do not need to tell them about all the features you find awesome, especially if they will be overwhelming or change the original objective
  • Open Ended Questions

    • Does not have a definitive answer
    • gives a base to build off of
    • Provide plenty of time for an answer but know that it’s alright to step in if the topic gets way off course.
    • Using only open ended questions will leave you guessing what the user really needs by what they have stated, especially when working with non technical personnel
  • Close Ended Questions

    • Has a definitive answer (yes/no, red/blue)
    • Used to get down to a more specific answer
    • can lead to the wrong solution if used improperly due not getting enough input from user
  • Probing Questions

    • Can be very helpful especially to build on the answer you received from an open ended question
    • gets into more detail about what you have learned from previous answers

I can be reached for comments, questions or ideas on twitter @Try2StopUs

Try2Stop.Us | Contact Us | Log In | Try2Stop.Us © 2011