When To Use Open-Ended vs. Closed-Ended Questions

How you ask a question is as important as what you ask about. Here’s a guide for when to use open vs. closed-ended questions.

Use Open-Ended Questions when…

  • you are interested in the answer
  • you are seeking options and alternatives
  • you are willing to be influenced by new information
  • you care about what the other person has to share


What ideas do you have?

What’s your perspective on this issue?

How do you feel about this?

Which option do you recommend?

Use closed-ended questions when…

  • your goal is a multiple choice test with one right answer
  • you already know what you want to hear
  • you are trying to trap someone
  • you’ve already made up your mind
  • you want to evaluate or judge the answer
  • you are in a hurry
  • you really don’t care at all


Don’t you believe we should call them first?

What part of “no margin, no mission” don’t you understand?

Italian or Mexican?


Did you mean to say that?

Generally, open-ended questions convey curiosity. Closed-ended questions convey something else. What’s your goal?

Copyright Next Element Consulting, LLC 2016

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