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Flashcards in Ch. 3 - Interviewing Deck (51):

Ch. 3 - Questions & Their Uses

- a question is any action that solicits an answer
- w's are the tools of the trade for both parties in interviews and like all tools, each has a name, unique characteristic, performs specific functions, and enables us to complete tasks efficiently and effectively.
- questions may be the most powerful technology we have ever created because they allow us to control our lives and allow us to make sense of a confusing world by leading to insight and understanding
- a question need not be a complete sentence with a question mark at the end.
- it is any word, phrase, statement, or nonverbal act that invites an answer or response


Open and Closed Questions

- they vary in the amount of information they solicit and degree of interviewer control.
- info may range from a single word to lengthy descriptions, narratives, and reports of statistical data
- control may range from minimal for open ended questions to maximum with closed questions


Open Questions

- open questions invite open answers
- open questions vary in degree of openness ranging from a topic or area of inquiry to more specified subject matter.
- regardless, respondents have considerable freedom to determine the amount and kind of information to give


Open Questions:

Highly Open Questions

- highly open questions place virtually no restrictions on the interviewee
- what do you recall about the blizzard of 1978?
- what was it like fighting in the mountains of Afghanistan?
- tell me about your safari in Kenya


Open Questions:

Moderately Open Questions

- are more restrictive but give respondents considerable latitude in answers.
- how did you manage to dig out of your car after the blizzard of 1978?
- tell me about your most frightening experience while fighting in the mountains of Afghanistan
- what was it like visiting the Masai village during your safari in Kenya?


Advantages of Open Questions

- interviewees can volunteer information and elaborate
- open questions encourage respondents to talk, determine the nature and amount of information to give, and volunteer information
- lengthy answers reveal what respondents think is important and motivate them to provide details and descriptions
- open questions communicate interest and trust in the respondent's judgement, are usually easier to answer, and pose less threat.
- longer answers reveal a respondent's level of knowledge, uncertainty, intensity of feelings, perceptions and prejudices


Disadvantages of Open Questions

- interviewees can pick and choose, reveal and hide
- a single answer may consume a significant portion of interview time bc the respondent determines the length and nature of each answer
- one the other hand, respondents may give unimportant or irrelevant information, or they may withhold important info they feel is irrelevant or too obvious, sensitive, or dangerous.
- keep respondents on track and maintain control by tactfully intervening to move on.
- lengthy, rambling answers are difficult to record and process


Closed Questions

- close q's are narrow in focus and restrict the interviewee's freedom to determine the amount and kind of information to provide.


Closed Questions:

Moderately Closed Questions:

- restricted questions lead to restricted answers
- moderately closed questions ask for specific, limited pieces of information such as:
- what are you favorite places to eat?
- on which airlines have you flown during the past year?
- what was the first thought that came to mind when the principal announced over the PA system that the school was on lockdown?


Closed Questions:

Highly Closed Questions

- highly closed questions may ask interviewees to pick an answer
- highly closed w's are very restrictive and may ask respondents to identify a single bit of information
- which cruise line did you take on your Alaska trip?
- how much does it cost per credit hour for your online course?
- what is your e-mail address?


Closed Questions:

Bipolar Questions

- closed q's may be bipolar because they limit respondents to two polar choices. some ask you to select and answer from polar opposites
- bipolar questions offer polar opposites for answers
- are you going to the Sunday afternoon or Sunday evening service?
- do you usually work the day or night shift?
- are you a democrat or republican?

- other bipolar q's ask for an evaluation or attitude
- are you for or against compulsory health insurance?
- do you approve or disapprove of the new library closing hours?
- do you like or dislike the new traffic circle at Cumberland and Kent?

- the most common bipolar q's ask for yes or no responses
- have you voted yet?
- are you going to the staff meeting this afternoon?
- do you have an E-Z pass for the toll road?


Advantages of Closed Questions

- they provide control and direction
- close w's permit interviewers to control the length of answers and guide respondents to specific information needed.
- closed q's require little effort from either party and allow you to ask more q's, in more areas, in less time.
- answers are easy to replicate, tabulate, and analyze from one interview to another


Disadvantages of Closed Questions

- closed questions stifle volunteering of information
- answers to closed q's often contain too little information, requiring you to ask several questions when one open question would have done the job.
- they don't reveal why a person has a particular attitude, the person's degree of feeling or commitment, or why this person typically makes choices.
- interviewers talk more than interviewees when asking closed q's, so less information is exchanged
- interviewees have no opportunity to volunteer info or explain info; and they can select an answer or say yes or no without knowing anything about a topic


Open and Closed Questions

- as the amount of data decreases (more closed), your control increases, less time and skill are required, and the degree of precision, reliability and reproducibility increases.
- as you open up a question, the amount of data increases and the interviewees may reveal knowledge, level, understanding, reasons for feeling or acting, attitudes and hidden motives.
- interviews can include both open and closed questions with varying degrees of constraint to get the information desired.
- "are you familiar with the presidents job plans?" - bipolar question, and then follow it with an open-ended question like "what do you know about this plan?"
- an open question "tell me about your study abroad semester in Poland" can be followed with a closed question, "what was your first impression of Poland?"
- combinations often lead to the best results


Primary and Probing Questions:


- primary questions make sense out of context.
- primary questions introduce new topics or new areas within a topic and can stand alone even when taken out of context
- "tell me about your trip to western Canada"
- "who was the most influential person in your life?"
- "how did you prepare to run the Boston Marathon?"


Primary and Probing Questions:


- q's designed to dig deeper into answers that appear incomplete, superficial, suggestive, vague, irrelevant, or inaccurate are called probing questions.
- unlike primary questions that can stand alone and make sense, probing or follow-up questions make sense only when connected to the previous question or series of questions
- probing questions make sense only in context.


Types of Probing Questions:

Silent Probes:

- if an answer is incomplete or the respondent seems hesitant to continue, use a silent probe with an appropriate nonverbal signal such as eye contact, a head nod, or a gesture to encourage the person to continue.
- silence shows interest in what is being said, and is a tactful way to respect the answer and the respondent if you communicate disbelief, uncertainty, or confusion
- be patient and be quiet.

- What do you think of the President's state of the union speech?
- it was about what I expected
- (silence)
- most of his ideas have appeared in the news or in other speeches over the past few months, so I wasn't surprised by anything he said.


Types of Probing Questions:

Nudging Probes

- a nudge replaces silence with a word or phrase.
- use a nudging probe if a silent probe fails and words seem necessary to get what is needed.
- it nudges the interviewee to reply or to continue.
- the nudging probe is usually simple and brief such as:
- I see.
- go on
- yes?
- and?
- so?
- uh-huh?

- a common mistake is the assumption that all questions must be multiple-word sentences.
- a lengthy probing question might stifle the interchange or open up a new area of topic, the opposite of what you want. valuable information and insights may be lost.


Types of Probing Questions:

Clearinghouse Probe

- a clearinghouse probe is an essential tool for discovering whether a series of questions has uncovered everything of importance on a topic or issue
- it encourages respondents to volunteer information you might not think to ask for and to fill in gaps your questions did not elicit.
- this probing tool literally clears out an area or topic, such as the following:
- what have I not asked that you recall about this incident?
- is there anything else you would like for me to know?

- a clearing house probe enables you to proceed, confident that you have gotten all important information.
- you cannot anticipate or plan for all information a party might be willing to reveal, so what you do not ask may be more important that what you do ask.


Types of Probing Questions:

Informational Probes

- pry open vague, superficial, and suggestive answers
- informational probing q's are used to get additional information or explanations.
- for example, if an answer is superficial, ask a probing question such as:
- tell me more about your encounter with the Senator.
- what specifically did she say?

- if an answer is vague or ambiguous, perhaps inviting different interpretations, ask an informational probe.
- you say you are from a small town. what was its population?

- if an answer suggests a feeling or attitude, ask an informational probe:
- you still appear to be depressed about that three overtime loss
- would you be willing to accept your student's comments about you on his Facebook page?


Types of Probing Questions:

Restatement Probes

- restate or rephrase to get complete answers
- respondents may not answer the question you ask.
- rather than create a new probing question, restate all or part of the original question, perhaps using vocal emphasis to draw attention to the original concern.
- rephrasing an original question tactfully may avoid embarrassing the interviewee.
- if an interviewee makes a mistake in an answer, restate your question tactfully, perhaps with vocal emphasis, to avoid the appearance of questioning the person's honesty or intelligence. For example:
- who do you think was the best democratic president during the past 50 years?
- Ronald Reagan without a doubt?
- Who do you think was the best DEMOCRATIC president during that time?


Types of Probing Questions:

Restatement Probes

- if a person seems hesitant to answer a question, the question may be unclear or seem to demand what is difficult to provide.
- restate the question so that it is clearer and easier to answer.
- if you ask a question with more than one part, a respondent may answer one part. restate the portion or portions left unanswered.


Types of Probing Questions:

Reflective Probes

- reflective questions verify and clarify
- a reflective probe literally reflects the answer just received to verify or clarify it so you know you have interpreted it as the respondent intended.
- make it obvious that you are seeking verification and clarification, not attempting to lead or trap the interviewee into giving a desired answer or to question honesty or intelligence
- be tactful verbally and nonverbally.

- if an answer seems inaccurate (wrong data or figure, inaccurate quotation, mix-up in words), ask a reflective probing question such as the following:
- that was AFTER the fire was detected?
- that was GROSS profits from the fund-raiser?
- by former president Bush, are your referring to president George H. W. Bush??


Types of Probing Questions:

Reflective Probes

- a reflective probe is different from a restatement probe in that a reflective probe seeks to clarify and verify an answer
- a restatement probe seeks to obtain more information following a primary question

- Another example of Reflective Probes:
- do you believe the candidates wife has a good grasp on what live is like for most citizens?
- no, i don't. she hasn't worked a day in her life
- are you saying that being a mother of four children is not working? (verifying and clarifying your original answer)


Types of Probing Questions:

Mirror Probes

- the mirror question, unlike the reflective question, summarizes a series of answers or interchanges to ensure accurate understanding and retention.
- it may mirror or summarize a large portion of an entire interview, to be certain of instructions, elements of proposal, prescribed regimens, agreed-upon procedures, and so on.
- for example, a physician might use a mirror question to verify understanding of a patient's symptoms.
- reflective and mirror questions can help you avoid errors cause by faulty assumptions, poor memory, or misinterpretations


Skill Interviewing with Probing Questions

- skillful probing leads to insightful answers
- the use of probing q's separates skills and unskilled interviewers.
- the unskilled person sticks with a prepared list of questions, anticipates questions prematurely and is impatient.
- a skilled person listens carefully to each response to determine if the answer is satisfactory. if it's not, the questioner determines the probable cause within seconds and phrases an appropriate probing question
- skillful probing discovers more relevant, accurate and complete information and may heighten the other party's motivated because you appear to be interested and listening.


Skill Interviewing with Probing Questions

- probing questions may cause issues. if a person does not respond immediately, you may jump in with a probing question when none is needed.
- phrase probing questions carefully and be aware of vocal emphasis
- the meaning of a simple "why" question can be altered by stressing different words.
- WHY do you say that?
- Why DO you say that?
- Why do YOU say that?
- a simple why question may unintentionally communicate disapproval, disbelief, mistrust and make the other party defensive and reluctant to disclose openly.
- a poorly phrased probing question may alter the meaning of the primary question or bias the reply. be tactful but not demanding. do not misquote or put words into their mouth


Neutral and Leading Questions:

Neutral Questions

- neutral questions allow respondents to decide upon answers without direction or pressure from the questioner.
- in open, neutral questions, the interviewee determine the length, details, nature of the answer.
- in closed, neutral questions, a person may choose between equal choices.
- all questions discussed and illustrated so far have been neutral questions
- neutral questions encourage honest answers


Neutral and Leading Questions:

Leading Questions

- leading questions suggest the answer expected or desired because the questioner leads the respondent toward a particular answer by making it easier or more tempting for the respondent to give one answer over the other.
- leading questions direct interviewees to specific answers.


Neutral and Leading Questions:

Interviewer Bias

- interviewer bias occurs whenever respondents provide answers they feel the interviewer prefers to hear.
- such bias may be intentional or unintentional
- leading questions are a major source of interview bias, but others are status differences between the parties, an interviewee's perceptions or assumptions, word choice, dress, symbols such as political buttons and nonverbal signals.
- interviewer bias leads to dictated responses
- an apparent bipolar question may in reality have only one pole.


Examples of Neutral Questions

- do you enjoy fly fishing?
- are you going to the conference?
- how did this class compare to the last one?
- how do you feel about working out?
- what were your reactions to the new scheduling system?
- have you ever gotten drunk?
- have you ever cheated in class?
- do you consider yourself to be a conservative or liberal?
- how do you feel about gun control laws?
- do you want a diet soft drink?


Examples of Leading Questions

- you like fly fishing, don't you?
- you're going to the conference, aren't you?
- wasn't this class better than the last one?
- do you hate to work out like most of us?
- what were your reactions to the stupid new scheduling system?
- when was the lsat time you got drunk?
- have you stopped cheating in class?
- do you consider yourself to be a conservative or socialist?
- how do you feel about gun control laws that violate our second amendment rights and will lead to a police state?
- I assume you want a diet soft drink?


Neutral and Leading Questions:

- all 10 leading q's make it easier for a person to reply in a specific way.
- if you are in a nonthreatening, informal, pleasant situation with a friend or equal in an organizational or social situation, you might ignore or object to a leading question.
- however, if you are in a threatening, formal situation with higher status party, you may feel obligated to answer as the interviewer prefers.
- at other times, you might go along with the direction bc you don't care, want to cooperate, avoid upsetting a person, or "not make a scene". if that's the answer a person wants, you give it.


Neutral and Leading Questions:

- the first four and last two leading questions are mild in direction. each appears to be bipolar.
- however, the phrasing of each guides the respondent toward one pole; they are actually unipolar questions.
- respondents could ignore the direction of questions 1-3 and 10, if their relationship did not seem to depend on yes answers.
- question 4 uses the bandwagon technique (follow the crowd) and a respondents answer might depend on past experiences with the interviewer and whether the respondent wants to follow the majority.
- question 10 suggest that the respondent will want a diet soft drink; a person with ambivalent or apathetic feelings might just give the answer the interviewer seems to want.


Neutral and Leading Questions:

Loaded Questions

- loaded questions are extreme leading questions.
- questions 5 and 9 provide strong direction, virtual direction of the correct answer; that;s why they are called loaded questions.
- questions 5 and 9 are loaded bc of the name-calling and emotionally charged words.
- since leading questions, particularly loaded ones, have potential for severe interviewer bias, avoid them unless you know what you're doing.
- introductory phrases like "according to the law" "as well all know" "as witnesses have testified" and "as the coach warned" may lead respondents to give acceptable answers rather than true feelings or beliefs.
- you can turn a neutral question into a leading question by the nonverbal manner in which you ask it.
- for ex., you may appear to demand a certain answer by leaning toward the respondent, looking the person directly i the eyes or raising an eyebrow.
- you can even appear to demand a certain answer by emphasizing key words.


Neutral and Leading Questions:

Loaded Questions

- regardless of the potential for mischief, leading q's have important uses.
- recruiters use them to see how interviewees respond under stress
- sales reps use leading questions to close sales
- police officers ask loaded questions to provoke witnesses
- journalists use them to prod reluctant interviewees into responding
- loaded questions dictate answers through language or entrapment.


Neutral and Leading Questions:

Loaded Questions

- do not confuse neutral mirror and reflective probing questions with leading questions
- mirrors and reflective may appear to direct respondents toward particular answers, but their purposes are clarification and verification, not leading or direction.
- if they lead by accidents, they are failures.


Common Question Pitfalls

- phrase questions carefully to avoid common pitfalls
- bc interviews are often minimally structured and we must create both primary and probing questions on the spot, it is easy to stumble into common question pitfalls.
- bipolar trap, the tell me everything, the open-to-closed switch, the double barreled inquisition, the leading push, the guessing game, the yes (no) response, the curious probe, the quiz show, the don't ask, don't tell quesiton


Common Question Pitfalls:

The Bipolar Trap

- avoid unintentional bipolar questions
- you fall into a bipolar trap when you ask a bipolar question designed to elicit a yes or no answer when you really want a detailed answer or specific information.
- this pitfall is obvious in questions that begin with words such as do you, did you, are you, have you, were you, can you, is there, would you, and was it.
- if all you want is a yes or no, each may be satisfactory, but a yes or no tells you little.
- bipolar w's assume there are only two possible answers and that the answers are poles apart: conservative-liberal, like-dislike, approve-disapprove, agree-disagree, high-low, yes-no
- eliminate bipolar traps by reserving bipolar questions for situations in which only yes or no or a single word is desired.
- begin questions with words and phrases such as what, why, how explain, and tell me about that ask for detailed information, feelings or attitudes.


Common Question Pitfalls:

The Tell Me Everything

- the tell me everything is at the opposite end of the scale from the bipolar trap.
- instead of a simple yes/no or agree/disagree, this question trap occurs when the interviewer asks an extremely open question with no restrictions or guidelines for the interviewee.
- the interviewee may have a hard time determining where to begin, what to include, what to exclude, and when to end.
- the tell me everything pitfall occurs in an employment interview when the recruiter says "tell me about ourself" or when a journalist asks "what was it like in Afghanistan?" or health provider asking "tell me about your medical history"
- ask open questions rather than closed and bipolar questions, but don't make them too open.
- for an ex. let the interviewee know what part of self, the Afghanistan deployment, and the medical history you are most interested in.


The Open-to-Closed Switch

- think before asking and know when to stop asking
- the open-to-closed switch question occurs when you ask an open question but, before the interviewee can respond, you rephrase it into a closed or bipolar question.
- tell me about your trip to Seattle. Did you see the new Boeing Dreamliner?
- why did you purchase a new pickup truck? was it because of the rebate?
- the open-to-closed switch occurs when you are still phrasing a question in your mind.
- this rummaging about for the right phrasing often changes a perfectly good open question into a narrow, closed question.
- the respondent is likely to address only the second question, perhaps with a yes or no.
- avoid the open-to-closed switch by preparing questions prior to the interview and thinking through questions before asking them.


Common Question Pitfalls:

The Double-Barreled Inquisition

- the double-barreled inquisition question occurs when you ask two or more questions at the same time instead of a single, precise question.
- which charities do you give to most often and how did you choose these?
- tell me about your positions at Penney's and Macy's
- a respondent may answer both parts of the question, they may answer both parts superficially, answer the party they can remember, select the party they want to answer, or react negatively to the perceived inquisition
- you may find it necessary to repeat a portion of the initial question to get all of the information wanted, or you may be unaware of missing information and go to another primary question prematurely
- avoid the double-barreled inquisition and its dangers by asking one question at a time. if you ask a double-barreled inquisition, repeat the part the interviewee did not answer.


Common Question Pitfalls:

The Leading Push

- the leading push occurs when you ask a question that suggests how a person ought to respond.
- the push may be intentional (you want to influence the answer) or unintentional (you are not aware of the push)
- it is easy to interject feelings or attitudes through language and nonverbal signals.
- you're going to the help session, aren't you?
- you chose a college because your girlfriend went their?
- you may not realize you have asked a leading question and remain unaware that you received a skewed answer to please you.
- the interviewee may go along with whatever answer you seem to want, particularly if you are in the superior role.
- avoid the leading push trap by phrasing questions neutrally and listening carefully to each question you ask.


Common Question Pitfalls:

The Guessing Game

- the guessing game pitfall happens when you try to guess information instead of asking for it.
- it's common in interviews
- strings of closed, guessing questions fail to accomplish what a single open-ended question can.
- ask rather than guess, and rely on open rather than closed questions to avoid the guessing game pitfall.


Common Question Pitfalls:

The Yes (No) Response

- the yes (no) response pitfall occurs when you ask a question that has only one obvious answer, a yes or no.
- each of the following q's are likely to get predictable responses:
- do you want to pass this course?
- do you want to die?
- avoid the yes (no) question pitfall by opening up your questions and avoiding the obvious.
- an obvious question will generate and obvious answer.


Common Question Pitfalls:

The Curious Probe

- curious probes delve into information you do not need.
- curiosity may be fatal to interviewers.
- make sure every question you ask probes into info that is relevant and important to the purpose of your interview.
- if there is a likelihood that a question may appear to the interviewee to be irrelevant or non of your business, explain why it's important and how you will use the information you receive.
- ask for demographic data such as age, income, educational level, and marital status only when such info is clearly necessary and relevant, after you have established trust, and at the END of the interview.
- as an interviewee, do not assume a question is irrelevant; the interviewer may have a valid reason for asking.
- other cultures ask questions that might appear irrelevant (Japanese may ask personal questions early on to learn important characteristics about you)


Common Question Pitfalls:

The Quiz Show

- interviews are not quiz shows - the parties you interview should have a store of knowledge that enables them to answer comfortably and intelligently.
- questions about the respondents information level may cause embarrassment or resentment bc no one wants to appear uninformed, ill-informed, uneducated, or unintelligent.
- respondents may fake answers or give vague answers rather than admit ignorance.
- on the other hand, questions below the respondents intelligence or level of information may be insulting.
- avoid the quiz show pitfall by asking for information in common categories or frames of reference such as pounds rather than ounces, cups rather than pots of coffee, or numbers of hours watching tv per day than month or year.


Common Question Pitfalls:

Complexity Vs. Simplicity

- ask q's that are simple, clear requests of reasonable amounts of information.
- avoid overly complex questions that challenge respondents to figure out what you want.
- if you must have a complex question, explain the scale and provide opportunities for interviewees to try out the scale to determine if they understand the question and how to answer it.
- phrase questions carefully by avoiding a mixture of negatives, positives, maybes and unnecessary details.


Common Question Pitfalls:

The Don't Ask Don't Tell

- don't ask don't tell questions delve into information and emotions that respondents may be incapable of addressing because of social, psychological or situational constraints.
- there is a time and place for everything, so you do not discuss certain topics, in mixed groups, in public, or in political, religious or social settings.
- some areas are often taboo: sex, personal income, religious convictions, and certain illnesses.
- explain why a question is essential to ask and delay touchy or taboo questions until you have established a comfortable climate and a positive relationship.
- phrase questions carefully to lessen social and psychological constraints and to avoid offending interviewees.


Common Question Pitfalls

- avoid common question pitfalls by planning q's prior to the interview so you do not have to create them on the spot in the give-and-take interaction
- think before uttering a question, stop when you have asked a good open question instead of rephrasing it, use bipolar questions sparingly, avoid questions that are too open-ended, ask only necessary questions, ask for info at the interviewee's level, avoid complex q's and be aware of the accessibility factor in questions and answers.
- avoid pitfalls by preparing and thinking.
- know the common question pitfalls well enough that you can catch yourself before tumbling into one.



- each tool has unique characteristics, capabilities and pitfalls.
- knowing which w to select and how to use it is essential for interviewing effectively and efficiently.
- each question has three characteristics
(1) open or closed
(2) primary or probing
(3) neutral or leading
- open q's are designed to discover large amounts of info, while close q's are designed to gain specific bits of information.
- primary q's open up topics and subtopics while probing w's probe into answers for more information, explanations, clarifications and verifications.
- neutral q's give respondents freedom to answer as they wish, while leading q's nudge or shove respondents toward specific answers.
- phrasing questions is essential tog et the information needed. if you phrase q's carefully and think before asking, you can avoid common w pitfalls such as bipolar trap, tell me everything, leading push, etc.