By Lisa Parker

Whoever came up with “there’s no such thing as a dumb question” lied. Dumb questions most certainly exist. I know because I’ve been on the receiving end of my fair share of them for years.

It’s not that the individual having a question is dumb. It is more the individual’s choice to pose a question to me when, strategically, they could easily obtain the information by other means and use their time with me to discuss more valuable content.

Many job seekers take the time to make sure the questions they ask in interviews are meaningful. Most know asking about things they could have researched themselves, like asking what the company does, is taboo. The trouble often lies in the conversations people have outside of the interview room. The same courtesy isn’t afforded. These could be conversations with networking sources, family members, friends, co-workers, supervisors, mentors, professors…the list goes on.

We’ve become a culture of immediate gratification. I suspect that’s part of the reason many have become sloppy detectives. When a question pops in our head we blurt it out without first weighing if the information is something we could get on our own or considering what we might miss out on discussing with the individual because we’ve used their time to drill them on basic stuff. That’s a huge tactical error. Imagine the wasted opportunity if a person in the presence of Steve Jobs had used the time to ask him to explain what a gigabyte is or to list the color options for the iPhone. These are the kinds of questions Google is waiting to help people with. Use it!

My challenge to everyone is to start questioning your questions. Take stock of those you are speaking with when questions come to mind. Pretend, although it’s not really pretending, you have a limited supply of information you could possibly get from each person. Weigh the questions you have and consider if posing them to that person, at that time, is really the best use of the situation. All involved will thank you for doing so!

Let me close this message by assuring those I’m working with that I love questions. I really and truly do. I would gladly answer questions all day long. Like everyone else, my time is limited. I feel I have so much to share, so much to offer, if you let me. The goal is to get you working a.s.a.p. That means you need your A-game in terms of making the best use of every interaction you have with people. If you’ve got bad habits in terms of firing basic questions at me, you’re likely doing the same with others. It significantly limits what you have the potential to learn and slows down progress. Don’t squander time spent with others. Don’t treat any contact like your own personal Google search engine.


Lisa joined the Michigan State University Alumni Association as Director of Alumni Career & Business Services on May 1, 2012. Her primary focus is to develop effective networking and resource channels for experienced alumni interested in professional development and job search strategy assistance. Additionally, Lisa works directly with corporate, education, foundation and government partners seeking to attract qualified talent, retain and develop good employees, and establish collaborative relationships in line with their established goals and objectives.

With 15+ years’ experience in third party recruiting, Lisa offers a balanced understanding of both employee and employer perspectives.

Lisa is a firm advocate of the networking process and considers it a vital element in a successful job search. In addition to helping job seekers develop and best utilize networking contacts, Lisa shares her knowledge and insight-gained aiding corporate recruiting efforts-to give Spartan job seekers an edge in terms of lead sourcing, resume presentation and interview strategy.

Among Lisa’s notable accomplishments: Prima Civitas Foundation Scholar; Michigan Works Association Volunteer of the Year; Pink Slip Mid Michigan Planning Committee; career content blogger.


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