July 23, 2018

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The Most Powerful Question You Can Ask

The simplest things are, more often than not, the most powerful. And this remains true when looking at the most powerful, and the most overlooked, question to ask clients and candidates ..."Why?"

We need only look at some of the best teachers in the world, our children, to the see power in this question. Children are natural information gatherers as they assimilate the world around them. The question they ask more than any other to help them really "get" a complete understanding of something is "why." If you have not spent any time around children recently, spend five to ten minutes with a three- or four-year old and count how many times he/she asks this one simple question.

Here are just a few examples of the benefits to our business of asking why:

  • Instead of just hearing what clients or candidates have to say, asking why can help you really understand what they need most. For instance, a client may be willing to consider only direct-hire candidates for a position. In exploring why, you might learn that this client has had several bad experiences using temp or contract workers in the past. "Getting" where this client is coming from may afford you the opportunity to expand the search to temp candidates who fit current needs while addressing any concerns from past experiences.

  • Being a great listener is one of the best ways to build and nurture a relationship. Asking why shows that you care and want to know more about that person or company.

  • "Why" can save you time and even heartache. For example, asking why a candidate is looking to make a change could unlock the truth that he/she really is not ready to make a move. Better to find that out now rather than after a few interviews.

  • Asking why is like using a powerful Internet search engine. The information you get back from clients and candidates can help you more easily find the right person or job, resolve problems before they come up, or more effortlessly close the deal.

What are some of the "why" questions you can ask?

Ask clients:

  • Why is this important to you?
  • Why have you made that decision?

Ask candidates:

  • Why do you feel that way?
  • Why are you wanting to make a change?

If you are thinking that this is really simple, basic stuff, good. That alone is my point in writing this article. It's human nature to make things much more complicated than they need to be. For example, look at the tax code in the United States. We are masters at making things complicated, and then we make the complicated even more complicated. Yet even though most people would agree that the US tax system is much more complex than it needs to be, very little has been done to make a lasting change.

Although we may know that asking simple questions such as "why" has a powerful effect, we're not likely to do it on a regular basis. My request of you for the next few weeks is to focus more on what you ask versus what you say. And a great place to start is with a powerful question such as "Why?" The information and insights you gain may mean the difference between a deal that gets done and one that comes undone.

- Scott Wintrip, StaffingU Founder and President

Scott Wintrip, PCC ( is Founder and President of StaffingU, the leader in providing relationship-building techniques guaranteed to grow your business. For information on StaffingU's programs and services, including TeleClasses (live telephone-based classes), Virtual StaffingU (web-based courses), individual and group coaching, on-site training and speaking, and consulting visit or call 866-SU-WORKS (789-6757).