The Art of Learning More from the Interview


Conducting an interview can be a daunting task especially if you don’t have the opportunity to conduct one daily. The hardest part of conducting the interview can be asking questions that allow you to learn more about the candidate than just how well they can say “yes” or “no.” To learn more about the candidate you need to ask open-ended questions.

Open-ended questions are sometimes called “high-value questions.” They are called this because they prompt conversations instead of “yes” or “no” responses. A conversation with a candidate often generates additional, highly valuable, information that you would not be able to get from a resume. For example, if you ask, “Did you like your last job?” you would more than likely get a “yes” or “no” response. If you made it an open-ended question, “Tell me about your last job?” the response could include: their job title; a job description; what they liked about the job; what they disliked about the job; why they left the job.

Here are some tips for asking open-ended questions: 

  • Open-ended questions usually start with
    1. How
    2. If
    3. What
    4. Who
  • If you catch yourself asking a closed-ended question, follow it up with an open-ended question (Ex: If so, how would you accomplish that?)
  • Actively listen and take notes since there will be a lot of information given in the responses
  • Try to avoid “Why” questions as they often cause people to feel as if they must defend themselves.

Remember that open-ended questions are designed to start a conversation with your candidate.  Do not be surprised if the conversation strays a little from the original question-It’s Okay!  It means the open-ended question was a success and you will have a lot of high-value information about the candidate.