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7 different questioning techniques that you don’t know yet

    Different types of questions
    • Closed questions or Polar questions

    These are the most common and the easiest questions. The answer to these questions is just one word, such as ‘yes’ or ‘no’. Some typical examples are:

    “Can you do this work?”

    “Are you responsible for this fault?”

    They may also include multiple-choice questions like,

    “What should we do now for this problem – fix it ourselves, hire someone to fix it or leave it is?”

    These questions are popular as icebreaker questions in starting a conversation as they are easy to answer and start a dialogue with others.

    • Open questions

    Open-ended questions cannot be answered with a simple “Yes” or “No” and require deeper thinking and encourage wider discussion and elaboration. Some typical examples are:

    “What causes could have led to this situation?”

    “What can we do now to fix this problem?”

    These questions are very important as they require critical thinking and/or creative discussion. For problem-solving, most of the prominent authors have stressed asking open questions rather than closed questions, as they lead to finding out more information and dive deeper into solutions.

    While most English textbooks divide questions only into Open and Closed questions, many other types of questions have been proposed by some researchers. These sub-categories of open questions are described below [1] and [2].

    1. Leading questions

    While probing questions are not intended to lead the discussion or results in any direction, leading questions lead the respondent towards a certain desired positive or negative route. These types of questions bias the respondent towards something. Let’s look at some examples.

    “Do you have any issues with the project?”

    “How are you managing with this new system?”

    Here both the above questions have an implied negative bias – the project is likely to have issues and the new system is troublesome. Let us now look at their counterpart questions.

    “Did you enjoy working on the project?”

    “How useful is our new system?”

    Here both the above questions have an implied positive bias – the project is enjoyable and the new system is useful.

    Both above questions are asked with a judgemental mindset (described later in the chapter on Test your mentality in this book). While these biases are very good for persuasion and sales, they are not good for problem-solving. For problem-solving, we need to ask questions with a neutral bias, such as:

    “How is your experience with the project?”

    “How are you finding the new system?”

    2. Loaded questions

    Loaded questions appear to be straightforward, closed questions, but they have an element of twist. These questions contain an assumption about the respondent. These questions are very popular among lawyers and journalists as they often try to trick their interviewee into admitting a fundamental truth they would otherwise be unwilling to disclose. Here are a few examples.

    “Have you stopped stealing pens?”

    “Have you given up on drugs?”

    Here the question assumes that respondents have been stealing or taking drugs in the past. Irrespective of whether a person answers “Yes” or “No”, they fall into the trap of accepting the indirect allegations against them. 

    3.Probing questions

    Probing questions are intended for gaining clarification and more information about a subject. Probing questions are usually a series of questions, which dive deeper into a subject and provide a full picture. Typical examples are:

    “What was the temperature of the room, when the incident took place?”  ‘

    “When you went to that place, what did you see?”

    These questions are oriented towards finding more information, avoid misunderstandings and getting the bigger picture.

    4. Recall and process questions

    Recall questions require the recipient to recall or remember something. Here are some examples.

    “Do you remember, who was present at the crime scene?”

    “Where did you put the case papers?”

    Process questions require the respondent to add their own opinion to their answer and can test the respondent’s depth of knowledge about a particular topic. Here are a few examples.

    “In your opinion, who is the murderer?”

    “What is your opinion after reading the case papers?”

    Recall questions are useful for creating past inferences, while process questions are useful for encouraging critical thinking and in-depth evaluation of a subject.

    5. Rhetorical questions

    Rhetorical questions are questions that do not require an answer. They’re simply statements phrased as questions to make the conversation more engaging for the listener, who is drawn into agreeing with you. Politicians, lecturers, priests and speakers use such questions to increase the engagement with the audience and make them agree with their arguments. These questions are also close cousins of leading questions. Here are a few examples.

     “Isn’t it a wonderful event today?”

    “Aren’t you a spectacular audience?”

    The above questions are more engaging than simply saying that today’s event is wonderful, or the audience is spectacular.

    6. Funnel questions

    Funnel questions are an important tool in problem-solving and sales. Similar to a funnel, these questions begin broadly before narrowing to a specific point — or vice versa. As the questioning process proceeds, it becomes more (or less) restrictive at each step. These questions start with open questions and later end up in closed questions or vice versa. Here are a few examples.

    “How are you finding the new system?”

    “Do you encounter any specific issues in this new system?”

    “How can we make the new system better for such issues?”

    “Do you think introducing a new feature in this system will fix this?”

    Here is a classic sales example.

    “Are you looking for investing good returns on your money?”

    “Where are you presently investing your money?”

    “Have you tried investing in this Bluechip fund?”

    “Did you know that this Bluechip fund has been giving 15% returns?”

    “Will you be interested in investing in this Bluechip fund?”

    Funnel questions play an important part in any problem solving and more details are described in later chapters of this book.

    7. Judgemental Questions

    Often, we ask questions using a judgemental attitude, where we judge people or situations based on our experiences. In this judgemental mode, we are reactive to situations and look out for finding a person responsible for the problem rather than looking for its actual solution. For example, questions like, “Who is responsible for this?” or “Why can’t the government remove the taxes on our income?” Here the core idea behind asking a question is a blame game rather than problem-solving. The problem with this approach is that because of our judging attitude, we end up asking questions that support our beliefs and free us from the guilt of being responsible for the situation. Another variant of these questions is when the questioner assumes that they already know the answers. For example,

     “Why do you think you always arrive late?”

    “Have you stopped cheating people?”

    “Have you given up on smoking?”

    Here the question assumes that respondents have been always coming late or have been cheating people or have been smoking in the past. With such a biased questioning approach, questioning serves no useful purpose, and it is best to not get into the trap of judgemental questioning.

    On a lighter note:

    Teacher: “Whoever answers my next question can go home. The rest of you will have to stay back and complete your homework here.”

    Before she could ask her question, a boy threw his bag out of the class. The teacher was very angry and asked, “Who just did that?”

    The boy bravely stood up and said, “I did it. Thankyou. I am going home now!”


    [1] Guthrie, Georgina. “The 8 Essential Questioning Techniques You Need to Know.” Typetalk, 28 Nov. 2018,

    [2] “Types of Question – Effective Questioning | SkillsYouNeed.”,

    Different types of questions