What you find out depends on your questions, so:
- Set your objective. Are your questions trying to help you decide something, uncover a fact or reach some other goal? Decide on your goal first, then structure your questions.
- Ask one at a time. When you ask two-parters (“How do you propose to move ahead, and how will you deal with John?”), people tend to answer only the easier query.
- Don’t flaunt your authority. Sitting behind your desk and firing questions equals interrogation. Better: Sit in a visitor’s chair next to the person you are questioning to promote the feeling that you’re on his or her “side.”
- Ask permission when entering sensitive areas. Saying “Would you mind telling me about ...?” is not only polite, it builds trust that leads to better responses.