As a young professional trying to “prove” yourself in your first job, you may be tempted to follow your own judgment in situations where you’re not 100% sure you’re right. You may be afraid to ask “stupid questions” for fear of looking incompetent. You may be pushing up against a deadline and forget to double-check the details or seek another opinion.
But here’s what you need to remember: In the real world, mistakes have real consequences. You may feel like an idiot for asking questions, but imagine how you’d feel if you exposed your firm to a malpractice claim. It’s better to ask questions and do it right the first time than to make a mistake and be corrected later. Mistakes undermine your credibility and make your supervisors hesitant to send work your way. Asking questions shows you take your tasks seriously and want to do the best job possible.
Also realize that no one expects you to know everything right off the bat. There is a learning curve in any profession – your boss didn’t start out knowing all the answers, either. When you don’t know the answer, the only way to find out is to ask the question.
For an example of the quagmire created by mistakes, check out this article on the professional ramifications of tax preparation mistakes in the Journal of Accountancy: http://www.journalofaccountancy.com/Issues/2010/Jun/20102524.htm