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Why did You Decide to Join our Firm. . .Really?

Remember the last time you took a new job with a new employer? The reasons that brought you to that decision were undoubtedly many and complex. Did anyone ever ask you why? Probably not. Why don’t you do something different and start asking new hires why they decided to join your company?

Asking this question will provide you with insights on several levels. You’ll learn about your organization’s reputation in the industry. You might gain insight into your organization’s relative position on salaries and benefits. You might learn something about your reputation as a leader. You’ll gain insight into your new hire’s decision making process. You can gauge their reaction when asked an unexpected question. Lots of good information, don’t you think?

This is a great place to reiterate the value of silence when asking a challenging question. Years ago, when I was in sales, I learned a valuable technique. It was presented as a sales technique, but I’ve learned that it works in many different situations for many different people including salespeople, customer service representatives, spouses, parents, and leaders, to name a few. It’s deceptively simple, as many effective techniques are, and it works like this. When you ask a question, shut up until the answerer answers.

Sounds pretty straightforward, doesn’t it? Try it, and you’ll discover how difficult it is to execute. Most of us are uncomfortable with silence, and so we jump in to fill it. This behavior has lots of consequences–different ones in different situations–but all of them serious. In the sales world, the commonly held wisdom says it this way: The first person who talks after the question loses. When a questioner fills the silence after their own question, they do lose, big-time.

This is a perfect question to use to practice and develop your comfort with silence. It’s the really at the end of the question that guarantees the need for the answerer to pause to consider their reply. The addition of that simple word pushes the answerer beyond the quick, glib response they might have had ready after considering how much truth you’re looking for.

So, ask this question and wait, comfortably, while maintaining eye contact, and then wait some more. You’ll continue to be surprised how critical silence is for getting good answers to questions, and this question will give you lots of opportunity to practice.