In conducting an interview, there are different types of questions you might ask.
- Probing questions
These questions obtain knowledge and information by asking the interviewee to recall facts, terms, and basic concepts.
The types of questions that are associated with this level of critical thinking use the following key words: who, what, why, when, where, which, choose, find, how, define, label, show, spell, list, name, tell, recall, select, identify, recognize, record, relate, repeat, and underline.
- How is....?
- What is...?
- When did...?
- Who did...?
These questions help an interviewer understand a topic by having the interviewee address facts and ideas through organizing, comparing, translating, interpreting, giving descriptions, and stating main ideas.
The types of questions that are associated with this level of critical thinking use the following key words: choose, cite examples of, compare, contrast, demonstrate, describe, determine, differentiate between, discriminate, discuss, interpret, explain, express, extend, give in own words, identify, illustrate, infer, interpret, locate, phrase, pick, practice, outline, relate, report, respond, restate, review, recognize, select, tell, translate, summarize, show, and simulate.
- What facts or ideas show...?
- Which is the best example...?
- How would you summarize...?
These questions obtain information by asking for solutions to problems in which the interviewee must apply acquired knowledge, facts, techniques, and rules.
The types of questions that are associated with this level of critical thinking use the following key words: apply, build, choose, construct, demonstrate, develop, dramatize, employ, generalize, illustrate, interpret, make use of, model, operate, practice, relate, schedule, select, shop, solve, use, utilize, and initiate.
- How would you build....?
- What approach do you use when...?
- What would happen if...?
These questions obtain information by asking the interviewee to examine problems, break information into parts, identify motives and causes, and show ways that a theory is supported.
The types of questions that are associated with this level of critical thinking use the following key words: analyze, appraise, calculate, categorize, compare, conclude, contrast, correlate, criticize, deduce, debate, detect, determine, develop, diagram, differentiate, distinguish, draw conclusions, estimate, evaluate, examine, experiment, identify, infer, inspect, inventory, predict, question, relate, solve, test, and diagnose.
- What is the motive behind the statement...?
- What is the relationship between...?
- Can you identify the parts of...?
These questions obtain information by asking the interviewee to solve problems, put ideas together, or to apply acquired knowledge, facts, techniques, and rules.
The types of questions that are associated with this level of critical thinking use the following key words: adapt, arrange, assemble, collect, compose, construct, create, design, develop, estimate, formulate, invent, improve, manage, modify, organize, plan, prepare, produce, propose, predict, reconstruct, set-up, solve, synthesize, systematize, and devise.
- How would you improve...?
- What changes would you make...?
- Could you provide more information on...?
These questions ask the interviewee to present and defend opinions by judging information and the validity of certain ideas.
The types of questions that are associated with this level of critical thinking use the following key words: agree, appraise, assess, choose, compare, conclude, critique, decide, defend, estimate, evaluate, judge, measure, opinion, perceive, rate, revise, score, select, support, validate, value, and test.
- What is your opinion of...?
- How would you evaluate...?
- Why is this better than...?
When you ask a close-ended question, responses are limited to things such as a set of choices, a number, or a 'yes' or 'no' reply. Think of the many multiple choice or True or False tests you have taken during your career as a student. These are clear examples of close-ended questions. The advantage of using close-ended questions is that they tend to produce data that are objective or concrete - quick and easy to categorize, sort, and calculate.
- Did you attend the meeting on X?
- Did you talk to him about that?
Unlike close-ended questions, an open-ended question may result in a variety of responses. The answer is typically richer and contains more natural dialogue, resulting in more detailed information. You may learn about things you hadn't anticipated when you prepared for the interview. The type of data generated by open-ended questions is harder to categorize and sort; the analysis of this data is more time consuming for the interviewer or researcher.
- What are your feelings about X?
- How did you approach the situation?
One important aspect of a probing question is that it indicates to the person you are interviewing that you are really listening, because you probe - or follow up on - a response. When you ask a probing question you are seeking additional information, more detail, the interviewee's reaction, or clarification on some point. Sometimes this type of question is required to overcome an interviewee's reluctance to talk.
- Based on what you just said, what would do now?
- How would approach this problem?