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How to Ask a Question

There are numerous ways to ask questions. Furthermore, there are numerous types of questions to ask. Here is a brief rundown on the question-answer routine so commonly recreated in academic environments and job interviews.

Here are some reasons why it will be important to open your mouth and actually ask a question:

  • So you appear to be listening and paying attention
  • So you are fully informed of what you are doing in class
  • So you can understand everything about a possible job
  • So you know specifically where to go and meet people (and don't get lost)
  • So you are always one step ahead of everyone else
  • So you don't feel lost

We have put together a short list of suggestions on how to ask a question:

  1. Listen to your teacher, friend, co-worker, interviewer carefully so that you understand truly what he or she is saying.
  2. If you are unclear on something said, formulate a question in your mind.
  3. Write down the question for yourself in note form. (Optional, if you are in a group setting.)
  4. Do not interrupt. However, at the earliest break in speech, raise your hand (if in a group setting) or simply open your mouth and ask the question directly.
  5. If in a one-on-one setting such as an interview or a personal meeting, wait for a break in conversation when you either ask a question or time is open for questioning.
  6. Follow up the question with slight conversation, so that you are sure to understand what is being said and discussed.
  7. Follow the previous steps to ask another question.

Questions are asked at all times. When lost in a car or on foot and you need directions. In this case, pick someone off the street who is walking slowly and who "seems" personable. This description is rather subjective; however, you can select someone you seem fit. Courteously ask that person for directions.

In a job interview, there will always be space and time for a question and answer session at the end of the interview. In job interviews, generally hold your questions until the end, and then ask all you want. In fact, if you have no questions to ask, then you may appear unprepared or disinterested.

In a classroom setting, it will be important to stress respect. As many people will be in the room with you, it is imperative to listen to others before you ask your questions. You should flow according to classroom dcor, which may change from year to year or class to class. In most cases, you will raise your hand until your teacher or professor calls on you to ask your question. Interrupting your professor or fellow students will show signs of rudeness and may cause your question to be nullified quite easily.

As trite as it sounds, there are really no stupid questions. It is always better to ask a question than to appear confused and lost for the remainder of the class, job interview, or any other place in which you may ask a question. The important thing to remember is "how" to ask a question and not whether or not you should ask it.