Типы вопросов и ответов

Типы вопросов и ответов

by Евгений Волков -
Number of replies: 1

Types of Question

See also: Questioning Skills and Techniques

Although there are numerous reasons for asking questions the information we receive back (the answer) will depend very much on the type of question we ask.

Questions, in their simplest form, can either be open or closed - this page covers both types but also details many other question types and when it may be appropriate to use them, in order to improve understanding.

Closed Questions

Closed questions invite a short focused answer- answers to closed questions can often (but not always) be either right or wrong.   Closed questions are usually easy to answer - as the choice of answer is limited - they can be effectively used early in conversations to encourage participation and can be very useful in fact-finding scenarios such as research. 

Closed questions are used to force a brief, often one-word answer.

  • Closed questions can simply require a ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ answer, for example:  ‘Do you smoke?’, ‘Did you feed the cat?’, ‘Would you like a cup of tea?
  • Closed questions can require that a choice is made from a list of possible options, for example: ‘Would you like beef, chicken or the vegetarian option?’, ‘Did you travel by train or car today?
  • Closed questions can be asked to identify a certain piece of information, again with a limited set of answers, for example: ‘What is your name?’, ‘What time does the supermarket open?’, ‘Where did you go to University?

Open Questions

By contrast, to closed questions, open questions allow for much longer responses and therefore potentially more creativity and information.   There are lots of different types of open question; some are more closed than others!

Leading or ‘Loaded’ Questions

A leading question, usually subtly, points the respondent’s answer in a certain direction. 

Asking an employee, ‘How are you getting on with the new finance system?’ This question prompts the person to question how they are managing with a new system at work. In a very subtle way it raises the prospect that maybe they are not finding the new system so good.  

Tell me how you’re getting on with the new finance system’ is a less leading question – the question does not require any judgement to be made and therefore does not imply that there may be something wrong with the new system.

Children are particularly susceptible to leading questions and are more likely to take the lead for an answer from an adult.  Something simple like, ‘Did you have a good day at school?’ points the child towards thinking about good things that happened at school.  By asking, ‘How was school today?’ you are not asking for any judgement about how good or bad the day has been and you are more likely to get a more balanced, accurate answer.   This can shape the rest of the conversation, the next question may be, ‘What did you do at school?’  - the answer to this may vary based on the first question you asked – good things or just things.

Recall and Process Questions

Questions can also be categorised by whether they are ‘recall’ – requiring something to be remembered or recalled, or ‘process’ – requiring some deeper thought and/or analysis.

A simple recall question could be, ‘What is your mother’s maiden name?’.  This requires the respondent to recall some information from memory, a fact.  A school teacher may ask recall questions of their pupils, ‘What is the highest mountain?’  Process questions require more thought and analysis and/or a sharing of opinion.   Examples include, ‘What skills can you bring to this organisation that the other applicants cannot?’ or ‘What are the advantages and disadvantages of asking leading questions to children?


Rhetorical Questions

Rhetorical questions are often humorous and don’t require an answer. 

If you set out to fail and then succeed have you failed or succeeded?’  Rhetorical questions are often used by speakers in presentations to get the audience to think – rhetorical questions are, by design, used to promote thought. 

Politicians, lecturers, priests and others may use rhetorical questions when addressing large audiences to help keep attention.  ‘Who would not hope to stay healthy into old age?’, is not a question that requires an answer, but our brains are programmed to think about it thus keeping us more engaged with the speaker.


We can use clever questioning to essentially funnel the respondent’s answers – that is ask a series of questions that become more (or less) restrictive at each step, starting with open questions and ending with closed questions or vice-versa.  

For example:

"Tell me about your most recent holiday."
"What did you see while you were there?"
"Were there any good restaurants?"
"Did you try some local delicacies?"
"Did you try the Clam Chowder?"

The questions in this example become more restrictive, starting with open questions which allow for very broad answers, at each step the questions become more focused and the answers become more restrictive.

Funnelling can work the other way around, starting with closed questions and working up to more open questions.  For a counsellor or interrogator these funnelling techniques can be a very useful tactic to find out the maximum amount of information, by beginning with open questions and then working towards more closed questions.  In contrast, when meeting somebody new it is common to start by asking more closed questions and progressing to open questions as both parties relax. (See our page: What is Counselling? for more on the role of the counsellor.)


As there are a myriad of questions and question types so there must also be a myriad of possible responses.  Theorists have tried to define the types of responses that people may have to questions, the main and most important ones are:

  • A direct and honest response – this is what the questioner would usually want to achieve from asking their question.
  • A lie – the respondent may lie in response to a question.  The questioner may be able to pick up on a lie based on plausibility of the answer but also on the non-verbal communication that was used immediately before, during and after the answer is given.
  • Out of context – The respondent may say something that is totally unconnected or irrelevant to the question or attempt to change the topic.  It may be appropriate to reword a question in these cases.
  • Partially Answering – People can often be selective about which questions or parts of questions they wish to answer.
  • Avoiding the answer – Politicians are especially well known for this trait.  When asked a ‘difficult question’ which probably has an answer that would be negative to the politician or their political party, avoidance can be a useful tact.  Answering a question with a question or trying to draw attention to some positive aspect of the topic are methods of avoidance.
  • Stalling – Although similar to avoiding answering a question, stalling can be used when more time is needed to formulate an acceptable answer.  One way to do this is to answer the question with another question.
  • Distortion – People can give distorted answers to questions based on their perceptions of social norms, stereotypes and other forms of bias.  Different from lying, respondents may not realise their answers are influenced by bias or they exaggerate in some way to come across as more ‘normal’ or successful.  People often exaggerate about their salaries.
  • Refusal – The respondent may simply refuse to answer, either by remaining silent or by saying, ‘I am not answering’.

Advanced Communication Skills - The Skills You Need Guide to Interpersonal Skills

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Learn more about the key communication skills you need to be an effective communicator.

Our eBooks are ideal for anyone who wants to learn about or develop their communication skills, and are full of easy-to-follow practical information and exercises.

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In reply to Евгений Волков

Умения и техники выспрашивания

by Евгений Волков -

Questioning Skills and Techniques

See also: Types of Question


Gathering information is a basic human activity – we use information to learn, to help us solve problems, to aid our decision making processes and to understand each other more clearly.

Questioning is the key to gaining more information and without it interpersonal communications can fail.  Questioning is fundamental to successful communication - we all ask and are asked questions when engaged in conversation. 

We find questions and answers fascinating and entertaining – politicians, reporters, celebrities and entrepreneurs are often successful based on their questioning skills – asking the right questions at the right time and also answering (or not) appropriately.

Although questions are usually verbal in nature, they can also be non-verbal.  Raising of the eyebrows could, for example, be asking, “Are you sure?” facial expressions can ask all sorts of subtle questions at different times and in different contexts. 

See our pages: Verbal Communication and Non-Verbal Communication for more.

This page covers verbal questioning.

Why Ask Questions?

Although the following list is not exhaustive it outlines the main reasons questions are asked in common situations.

  • To Obtain Information:

    The primary function of a question is to gain information – ‘What time is it?

  • To help maintain control of a conversation

    While you are asking questions you are in control of the conversation, assertive people are more likely to take control of conversations attempting to gain the information they need through questioning. (Also see our pages on Assertiveness)

  • Express an interest in the other person

    Questioning allows us to find out more about the respondent, this can be useful when attempting to build rapport and show empathy or to simply get to know the other person better. (Also see Building Rapport and Empathy)

  • To clarify a point

    Questions are commonly used in communication to clarify something that the speaker has said.  Questions used as clarification are essential in reducing misunderstanding and therefore more effective communication. (Also see Clarification)

  • To explore the personality and or difficulties the other person may have

    Questions are used to explore the feelings, beliefs, opinions, ideas and attitudes of the person being questioned. They can also be used to better understand problems that another person maybe experiencing – like in the example of a doctor trying to diagnose a patient. (See our page What is Counselling?)

  • To test knowledge

    Questions are used in all sorts of quiz, test and exam situations to ascertain the knowledge of the respondent.  ‘What is the capital of France?’ for example.

  • To encourage further thought

    Questions may be used to encourage people think about something more deeply.  Questions can be worded in such a way as to get the person to think about a topic in a new way.  ‘Why do you think Paris is the capital of France?

  • In group situations

    Questioning in group situations can be very useful for a number of reasons, to include all members of the group, to encourage more discussion of a point, to keep attention by asking questions without advance warning.  These examples can be easily related to a classroom of school children.


How to Ask Questions

Being an effective communicator has a lot to do with how questions are asked.  Once the purpose of the question has been established you should ask yourself a number of questions:

  • What type of question should be asked – See our page: Question Types.
  • Is the question appropriate to the person/group?
  • Is this the right time to ask the question?
  • How do I expect the respondent will reply?

When actually asking questions – especially in more formal settings some of the mechanics to take into account include:

Being Structured

In certain situations, for example if you are conducting a research project or you work in a profession that requires the recording of information, it may be necessary to ask large numbers of questions. 

In such cases it is usually a good idea to inform the respondent of this before you start, by giving some background information and reasoning behind your motive of asking questions.  By doing this the respondent becomes more open to questions and why it is acceptable for you to be asking them.  

They also know and can accept the type of questions that are likely to come up, for example, “In order to help you with your insurance claim it will be necessary for me to ask you about your car, your health and the circumstances that led up to the accident”. 

In most cases the interaction between questioner and respondent will run more smoothly if there is some structure to the exchange.

Use Silence

Using silence is a powerful way of delivering questions. 

As with other interpersonal interactions pauses in speech can help to emphasise points and give all parties a few moments to gather their thoughts before continuing.

A pause of at least three seconds before a question can help to emphasise the importance of what is being asked.  A three second pause directly after a question can also be advantageous; it can prevent the questioner from immediately asking another question and indicates to the respondent that a response is required.

Pausing again after an initial response can encourage the respondent to continue with their answer in more detail. Pauses of less than three seconds have been proven to be less effective.

Encouraging Participation

In group situations leaders often want to involve as many people as possible in the discussion or debate.

This can be at least partially achieved by asking questions of individual members of the group.

One way that the benefits of this technique can be maximised is to redirect a question from an active member of the group to one who is less active or less inclined to answer without a direct opportunity. Care should be taken in such situations as some people find speaking in group situations very stressful and can easily be made to feel uncomfortable, embarrassed or awkward.

Encourage but do not force quieter members of the group to participate.

Advanced Communication Skills - The Skills You Need Guide to Interpersonal Skills

Further Reading from Skills You Need

Our Communication Skills eBooks

Learn more about the key communication skills you need to be an effective communicator.

Our eBooks are ideal for anyone who wants to learn about or develop their communication skills, and are full of easy-to-follow practical information and exercises.

1063 words