Questions: Open-Ended Versus Closed-Ended

I started the Hiring Tips newsletter about nine years ago, and probably the largest subject area addressed is the hiring interview. Different ways to approach the interview; different subjects to discuss; different methods to learn more about your applicant.

Another approach to consider is the type of question to ask.

Closed-Ended questions can get you a brisk, often candid answer, but not a great deal of information beyond that immediate answer.

For example:

1) Do you do work well under pressure?

2) Would you prefer to work with more or less supervision?

3) Do you want to work after hours?

The open-ended versions of these would be:

1) Tell me a couple of situations when you were under considerable pressure.

You could then dig in and get specifics as to how your applicant handled these situations.

2) What was it like to work with a supervisor who gave you total freedom to do your job?

2a) What was it like to work with a supervisor who crowded you with orders and very close supervision?

Again, get more details from your applicant.

3) What kind of after-hours work have you done?

3a) What kind of after-hours work would you like to do here?

As is obvious from this last group of questions, you’re going to get considerably more information about your applicant.

This is one of those tips that is almost unnecessary to write. I wrote it because sometimes we are adversely affected by the fast pace of our world and it can be helpful to step back, take a deep breath, and word our interview questions with a view of getting a closer look at the applicant.

As the law varies in each area, please check with an attorney to ensure you are applying these tips within the law.

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