I once sat down at a lunch table with some strangers, and we started chit chatting. It was one of those situations where we talked to fill the silence, because awkward noise beats awkward silence. We didn’t have anything meaty to say to each other though. We asked some of the same bland questions you hear over and over again — what do you do, where do you work, what movies do you like. You know, the usual. It was the social equivalent of watching paint dry.
Then, my other friend sat down and started asking questions. And the table came to life. We were suddenly talking about all these cool things we’ve done, and fascinating thoughts we have. It was as though we were different people. Thinking back on the conversation, she asked exactly the same questions — what do you do, where do you work, etc. But there was one, simple difference.
My friend is a genuinely curious human being. She was conversing because she was genuinely curious about the other people at the table.
I think everybody has some nugget of fascination in them. Some people bury these nuggets deep inside, others wear it on their sleeves. Whether I can find these nuggets depends on how good I am at digging. In order to be good at digging, I have to be genuinely curious.
It’s not about knowing the right questions to ask, or following an interview strategy guide. If you are genuinely curious about somebody or something, you will figure out the right questions to ask. Because you have to. Otherwise you won’t scratch your itch. And unscratched itches are unbearable.