If we ask a closed-ended question in an interview, we limit the possible answers our interviewee can give, and we make it more likely they’ll tell us what they think we wanna hear – which can be worse than no answer at all.
“Don’t you hate pineapple on your pizza?” will almost guarantee an answer of: “Oh yeah, of course! I’m not a freak.”
If we really want to know whether people like a fruity pizza we should ask something like: “What kind of pizza did you order last time you had one?” And follow up with: “Which toppings did you enjoy the most? Why?”
It might seem simple, but there’s a lot to unpack here. In the first question, we’re not only biasing the response, but we’re also going to get a simple “YES” or “NO” as an answer.
In contrast, with our set of open-ended questions, we’ll learn all about the pizza preferences of the other person without giving them any kind of hint or discriminating any responses even if you (quite rightly) think adding pineapple is a travesty.
Wait, then: can’t we just ask what they would order and save ourselves some time? It’s better not to.
People are great at making incorrect and over-optimistic predictions. Ask me how often I’ll go to the gym next month, I’ll tell you I’ll be in there three times a week. Ask me how many times I went last month, you get a very different picture.
So, open-ended, non-biased questions based on what did happen, not what could happen. Got it. What else?