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Question Pitfalls

To avoid using questions that don't obtain accurate and honest answers is significant in preparing an interview.

Scott Bantum

on 17 February 2016

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Transcript of Question Pitfalls

Avoid questions that lead to answers
which aren't honest, thorough or

The Bipolar Trap
Using a yes or no question
when you really want a detailed answer.
Beginning questions with "why", "how",
"explain" or "tell me about" helps to avoid this issue.
Don't use questions that are extremely open
such as, "Tell me something about yourself," or "What was it like to go back to college?"
The interviewee really has no clue where to begin or what to include in his/her answer.
The Open-to-Closed Switch
Be careful about asking an open question
but switching it to closed before the interviewee
can respond.
"Tell me about going back to college. Did you
have very much homework?"
The Double-Barreled Inquisition
Never ask 2 questions at the
same time instead of 1 specific
"How was your trip to Hawaii? Did
you go surfing?"
Avoid asking questions that suggest how they should be answered.
"Everybody's going to the party, aren't you?"
Ask for the specific info you want, instead of trying to quess it. Guessing wastes time when one open question could get the same information.
The Guessing Game
Try not to ask questions that have an obvious yes or no answer. "Are you qualified for this job?" "Do you want to pass the class?"
Steer away from questions which are highly personal,
taboo, culturally sensitive or overly emotional.
The Curious Probe

If each question you ask is relevant to your predetermined purpose, you'll avoid the Curious Probe.

Don't assume, as an interviewee, that a question is irrelevant. There may be a reason.

As an interviewer, avoid useless questions which are a waste of everyone's time.
"If your life was a movie,
what would the title be?"
YES: "What happened in the meeting?"
NO: "Do you know what happened
in the meeting?"

NO: Start with "Do," "Can," "Have,"
"Would," or "Will."

YES: Use "What," "Why," How,"
"Explain," and "Tell me about."
How was your internship during the
fall, and what are your plans for spring?"
Respondents may not remember all parts
of your question.

They may feel like they're being
Interviewer: Were you home at the time?

Interviewee: No.

Interviewer: Were you on campus?

Interviewee: No.

Interviewer: Were you in the village?

Interviewee: No.

Interviewer: Were you in town?

Interviewee: Yes.
Assessing beauty, intelligence, creativity, generosity, or bravery.

These result in an "Aw shucks" attitude, or "Yes" with a flourish that treats
the answer as a joke.

We don't discuss certain topics in mixed groups, in public, or in social
or religious settings.

Getting to know the interviewee in advance helps determine what can
and cannot be asked, and how it should be asked.
"Didn't you cause the accident
by talking on your cell phone while
Phrase question neutrally.
Listen to each question you ask.
"What caused the accident?"

Behavioural questions are
more probing and more
specific than traditional
interview questions
Behavioural: “Tell me about
your greatest achievement?
Behavioural: “What did you
do when…?”
Traditional interview
questions are more
hypothetical rather than
focusing on past events.
Traditional: “Tell me about
Traditional: “What would
you do if…?”
Full transcript