Key points when asking questions


※This article is meant for people who have already started working at a company.

The most important things when asking questions are “timing” and “content of the questions”. Are you paying enough attention to those 2 main points?

  1. Timing
    • Try to avoid asking questions when he / she looks busy
    • Try to ask yourself how important the question is. Low-priority questions should be asked all together later on
    • Do not ask many small questions separately (summarize them)
  2. Content of the questions
    • Ask yourself if the question has to be asked right now
    • Is the question as important as to interrupt his / her other work?
    • Have you specified everything you want to know in your question?

Before asking the main question(s)

  • “Can you spare a few minutes?”
  • ※”May I interrupt you for about 5 minutes?” (It is even better if you can be precise about the time you need for your question)

  • “Could you let me know when you have a little time? I would like to ask you a question.”
  • “Please check the company chat when you have a little time. I have sent you a question there.”

Try to be as considerate as possible when taking action. Remember that if you stand next to him / her and wait until you can ask your question(s), you might unintentionally put him / her under pressure.

Composition of questions and consultations

  1. Confirmation
  2. →Summarize the question the way that it can be answered with yes / no

    For example…
    “Is a signature from Mr. / Ms. ○○ enough on this document?”
    “I think △△ under □□□ in this document is mistaken. May I replace it with ××?”

    It is important to summarize what you want to have confirmed in the way that it can be answered by only using yes / no.

  3. Question
  4. →When seeking directions or asking for an opinion it is important to first of all reserve some time.

    For example…
    “I have a question about □□. Do you have some time?”

    It is a good idea to prepare your own opinion and an alternate plan to advance more efficiently. Moreover, for questions where you will not receive an answer right away mention until when a reply is necessary. Reminding the person about it at a later point in time is also very important.

  5. Asking for explanations
  6. →time-consuming!

    • Reserve some time
    • It is obligatory to set priorities

    Always keep these two things in mind. Especially prioritizing is very important because after all you will interrupt his / her work. Also, try to solve it on your own first by searching for information on the internet.

In short…

Making a question means using his / her time. However, in the worst case work will not advance without consultation. In my opinion it is the responsibility of the questioner to prepare the question (specify and summarize it) in advance to be as efficient as possible.