The direction of any conversation is very much dictated by the questions that are asked.
For anyone in a client-facing role, being able to get to know your client is critical in building a close relationship, but it is often the case that relationships remain on a superficial level because service providers are afraid to dig a little deeper and ask the difficult questions.
In my view, asking the right questions shows that you care.
In an occupation, such as recruitment, it is essential that this partnership is close. Being entrusted with a new role to work on is exciting for any recruiter, but some are carried away in this excitement rather than digging deeper to understand whether they can fill it or not. There is a fine line between “I’ll give it a go” and “I think I can do it.” The deciding factor is the knowledge of what the undertaking requires.
Asking questions is one of the most enjoyable parts of my job. It allows me to delve into the details of the position and company culture the hiring manager and often helps the client refine their thought process along the way. In teasing out the details of the role, it is often the case that the client-recruiter relationship is strengthened, and for me, this is an additional part of the value we can add. We have experience recruiting for similar roles, and are aware of market realities which may not have occurred to the hiring manager. It is our duty to explore the threats as well as the opportunities – only then can every avenue be explored with eyes wide open.
I find that asking questions is an incredible way to build credibility which leads to a developing trust. Asking open ended questions without any expectation of what the answer might be allows a client to give the most unconventional of replies. No one works from the textbook, and no one job brief is the same. When you can understand the nuances, you can find creative solutions with candidates who may not be a fit on a superficial level, but when you dig deeper, they may have many of the required qualities.
From our earliest schooldays, we may fear asking questions because we think they expose a weakness or lack of knowledge. Recruiters pride themselves on being well informed of the markets they serve, but we can never know as much as those doing the actual work. Asking intelligent questions to improve our understanding of the client and what they need affords us the opportunity to better serve them. Perspective is a wonderful thing and the more we understand our client’s perspective the more effective and useful we become for them. It can be what helps you see the world in a different light.
Naturally, the raison d’etre of a question is to find an answer. If you can’t find the answers, your future questions won’t be so welcome, but if you do your best to advance your understanding of a given situation, respondents will nearly always be happy to help you explore things.
Who, what, where, why, when. The most powerful words in the world.