asking the right questions, new employee, youngest employee in the office
NO CATEGORY / 14 December 2016
New Employee? Are you Asking the Right Questions?
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Andrew Bingham

It is common for interns and new employees to try hard to look smart, competent, and skilled; too often it’s a charade in order to cover up insecurities, lack of experience, and quite simply, anxiety. Resist the temptation to act like a know-it-all when starting out on a new project, and instead, focus on asking the right questions. No one cares if you’re smart; they care if you deliver—and unless you are humble enough to ask the right questions early on, you’re very unlikely to come up with the results you need for success. 

The hardest part of starting a new project is usually knowing how to begin. Whether you’re starting a project that resembles a huge fuzzy question mark, or whether you’ve already developed a to-do list as long as the phone book, you’re going to be spinning your wheels until you ask the right questions. When you embark on a new project, asking the right questions from your supervisor, your team members, or even yourself can make the critical difference between failure and success. 

Here we suggest three basic questions (with several follow-up questions) that you need to address with every new project to get you off on the right track:

1) What should my results look like? 

It’s hard to start working until you have a destination in mind. When possible, ask your colleagues and supervisors for very specific details on what the results of your work should look like. If they don’t have specific answers, you’re going to have to fill in the blanks. The more specific information you can come up with at the beginning, the better chance you’ll have of completing your project to the satisfaction of your colleagues. 

Here are some more questions to ask at this stage: 

2) What skills do I need? 

Once you have a clear idea of what results you are shooting for, it’s much easier to put together an action plan. First on that list is to determine what skills you’re going to need. For each result you need, ask what specific skills are needed to get the desired result. By asking these questions up front, you’ll have time to plan ahead for any potential training, research, or help you will need in order to complete your task. When you develop a list of skills needed to complete the project, you are likely going to have some missing spaces: This is where you are going to have to get help. 

Here are the specific questions to think about at this stage: 

3) Who (or what) can help me? 

On many projects you’re going to need help, and with ProSky projectships, almost all the work you do is team-based, so cooperation and teamwork are critical to your success. 

First off, ask if there’s a sample of someone else’s work that you can use as a reference. When you can use previous work as a guide you avoid reinventing the wheel and save your supervisors and team members valuable time in explaining the mundane details. 

Also, now that you have developed a list of skills needed for the task (see step 2), don’t be afraid to ask around for help. This is not only a golden opportunity to network and cooperate within your established teams, but also to create connections outside your usual team. 

Of course, there will be situations where you are not able to find someone who can complete the tasks you need help with, so make sure you identify these holes early on so you can get the requisite training. Be bold and ask your supervisors for support in getting training when needed. 

Here are the specific questions to think about at this stage: 


By asking in-depth questions you demonstrate that you are engaged, that you care, and that you are thinking critically about your project. You become a valuable member of any team when you show this kind of humility and intelligence. Make sure to do some heavy digging into these types of questions early on in the projectship and we’re confident you’ll deliver significant results. Here are some more great tips on how to successfully start a project. 

If you want more experience with putting these questions to good use, register for a project where you can show off your skills to hiring companies today!