Asking Questions During your Internship

Week 1: Getting to know the business and where you fit in

jack sarah nathalia 1 small

It's important to ask Questions

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. It’s very acceptable, and even encouraged, in Australian workplaces to ask questions throughout your internship. You can ask questions to clarify requirements or tasks assigned to you and about the expectations about your work that your supervisor has set.

Asking questions shows engagement and enthusiasm towards your internship and will often lead to key insights which will improve the overall impact you make to your host company.

For example, closed questions are questions that only require a yes/no answer. They don’t provide a lot of information, so you should be mindful of using them too much during your internship. Remember, you are there to learn! How do you learn if you don’t ask good questions to find out things that you don’t know?

You will probably find open questions more helpful because they provide more information about the topic, allow you to dig deeper into the purpose of the tasks and give you the opportunity to learn a lot more.

Types of Open Questions

Clarifying questions help you understand what has been said or instructed more clearly. They help people understand each other more easily and can be very useful when you’ve been given a task by your supervisor or colleague but aren’t sure that you completely understand what they require you to do.

Examples of clarifying questions could be:

“Could you tell me more about this project?” “What’s the purpose of this task?”

Adjoining questions are used to explore parts of a task or problem that might not be discussed during an initial conversation and can help you to understand the purpose and impact of the task or project in a wider context.

Examples of adjoining questions could be:

What impact will it make the the project/business?” “How could this project apply to other industries?”

Outcome.Life founder speaking to international students about employment and employability
Two international internship students talking and looking at their laptops

Funnelling questions are used to challenge assumptions, examine a problem further or understand cause and effect better. They help a person or team to improve their methods or strategies by asking why something was done a certain way, or if it could be done another way the next time.

Examples of funnelling questions could be:

“How did you complete the analysis of this data?”
“Why did you complete that step the way you did?”

Elevating questions provide a wider view of the problem or project. Sometimes, it is easy to get stuck in the small details of a project and forget the bigger picture – the actual purpose of the work that you or the business are doing. By asking elevating questions, you can re-focus your attention to the larger issues and spend your time on the parts of the task that will really make an impact.

Examples of elevating questions could be:

What is this project trying to achieve overall?”
“How do each of these tasks tie together to meet our larger goal?”

Source: Harvard Business Review 2015, Relearning the Art of Asking Questions, https://hbr.org/2015/03/relearning-the-art-of-asking-questions

If you have any questions...

The Outcome.Life team are always here to answer any questions or help with any problems you might encounter during your internship.

You can contact us between 9am – 5pm, Monday – Friday at:

Phone: 03 8899 7424

Email: hello@outcome.life

Or fill in the form below and we will get back to you as soon as possible.