There are two types of questions: open ended questions and close ended questions.
Open-ended questions offer the desired space for respondents to answer. When you want to speak less and know more, it is always a good idea to ask open-ended and fun questions. These questions can be answered even after giving a thought.
However, the characteristics of close-ended questions are totally opposite to the open-ended questions. These questions require the respondent to answer in one way and do not encourage creative answers.
Hence, close-ended questions are the most common type of question in a survey when a researcher wants to know the exact answer.
What are Open ended questions? (open ended questions definition)
Open ended questions are questions that seek elaborate answers, more than a simple “Yes” or “No”.
If you want to understand in simple words, open-ended questions are questions that require the respondent to speak something more than a ‘Yes’, ‘No’, or single-word answers.
So, the open ended questions avoid short responses and look for some more detailed and elaborated answers.
These answers give you additional information about the respondent and their preferences. Such questions can also be used to gather valuable information from customers while doing market research.
Close-ended questions are the opposite of open-ended questions. Through close-ended questions, you get the exact response but you wouldn’t be able to gather information that can be fruitful enough to understand something or somebody.
Here are a few examples for a better understanding of the concept.
Open ended questions examples
Why do you think humans are creative?
What is your opinion on democracy?
What are a few characteristics that you like and dislike about your parents?
Why are siblings important?
What do you have to say about the parent-teacher meetings in schools?
How can you get the kids talking?
All these can be answered in short but the main aim here is to get a detailed response and bring out the respondent’s thoughts and feelings. These pieces of information can then be analyzed to know more about a person or thing.
After the definition, let’s move ahead to find out the…
Benefits of open ended questions
Open ended questions are extremely beneficial especially when you are wanting to take a peek inside the respondent’s mind.
This is because these questions are framed in such a manner that the subject will be compelled to think deeply and answer them with their own knowledge and feelings.
Other than that, open ended questions offer several other benefits that help…
- Gather more subjective information
- Boosts creativity
- Build opinions and thoughts
- Strike healthy conversations
- Generates multiple responses & meaningful answers
…and allows introverts or shy people to open-up.
How to ask open ended questions?
After knowing the benefits of asking open ended questions, you already know why they are so important. It encourages people to talk more and give out more information. Also, it becomes a lot easier to spark a conversation with strangers.
Now let us see a step-by-step guide on how to ask these questions.
Step 1: Learn to identify open-ended questions
You need to understand the primary aim of asking open-ended questions. The whole motive behind it is to gather pieces of information that can portray somebody’s true feelings.
Once that is obtained, we can analyze the answers and obtain meanings from them.
Asking questions can be helpful because it makes the respondent feel that you consider them important and so you want to know how they feel.
Use open-ended questions to get an elaborated explanation of something. It can also be used as an effective conversation starter after a close-ended question.
You can take the one-word answer of the respondent and strike up a discussion out of it in the form of open-ended questions.
Step 2: Specify Boundaries
When you ask open-ended questions, you need to ensure that your questions are not too open for somebody to answer.
At times, if these questions are not framed in a proper word cloud can make the respondent uncomfortable. You wouldn’t want to do that. So you need to frame your question well for the response you want to receive.
For example, if you want to know about your crush’s requirements, then you mustn’t ask “What are you looking for in a person?” Because this question is very superficial. They might respond to you with some physical characteristics that they’re looking for.
To get the desired answer, you need to be more specific with your question like “What personality traits are you looking for in a person?”
Step 3: Filter Questions depending on your goals
If you are planning to ask a lot of questions, it’s best to filter them depending upon what you want to know. Initially, you can start with some narrow questions and then shift to broad and elaborated questions.
This method of asking questions works best when you’re trying to make somebody speak or win somebody’s confidence.
If the respondent is struggling to open up to you about their thoughts, you wouldn’t receive qualitative data.
So, you should start with narrow questions and once they start answering, you can easily shift to broad ones. This will keep the conversation going.
Step 4: Ask Follow-up Questions
It is always a good idea to use open-ended questions as follow-up questions. The open-ended follow-up questions can even be asked after close-ended questions.
If you want to ask a follow-up question after a close-ended question, you can simply ask ‘why’ or ‘how’ and wait for a lengthy answer.
After somebody has finished talking, you can ask them a follow-up question regarding what they just spoke or is related to that topic. This keeps the conversation flowing in an engaging manner.
Step 5: Make an effort to strike a conversation
It is easier to strike up conversations with open-ended questions. You can derive detailed and meaningful explanations with such questions.
Such questions denote that the person asking the questions is interested in listening to the respondent’s views.
You can ask open-ended questions to know somebody or discover someone’s choice. These questions also show that you are compassionate and you care for others. They require your 100% involvement to get personal answers.
Open-ended questions also help you to start conversations with introverts or strangers. Most open-ended questions are neutral hence, there are no wrong answers that can make a respondent uncomfortable or embarrassed.
After all the basics, it’s time to unlock the list.
Let’s first begin with…
Open ended questions for preschoolers
Preschoolers are very vulnerable. They are extremely observant to the scenario while also learning faster than any other age group.
So, you need to be very cautious about what you are asking these little ones because it might send a wrong message or worse, trigger them.
If you are finding it a bit overwhelming to begin, here’s a pre-prepared list for you.
- What are you doing?
- What will you do next?
- How did you do this?
- How did this happen?
- Why is this different?
- Can you do this in some other way?
- Why do you think these two shapes are the same?
- What are you thinking?
- Why is yellow your favorite color?
- Tell me about your favorite game
- Is there any other way you can draw this?
- Why do you say that you don’t like that person?
- Show me how to play this game
- When I say ‘play’, what do you think?
- What do you think comes next?
For older students, you can ask a few from the below list.
Open ended questions for students
Students are very sensitive and it will only be wise if you are careful while asking questions to them.
Since they understand the majority of things, you need to select exact words from the word cloud while framing a question. If you don’t want to risk it, go with this list.
- What do you wish to know?
- What do you think will happen if I do this?
- How do you feel it went?
- What should be your next step after doing this?
- How does this instrument work?
- When given a chance, what changes will you bring?
- Why do you think it is necessary to change?
- What do you think about the education system?
- How do different projects benefit you?
- What challenges are you facing in this subject?
- Why do you like this subject?
- If you were the teacher, how would you teach your students?
- What are the things required to do this task?
- What are the other ways through which I can solve this problem?
- Tell me how to fix this problem.
When we talk about parents, they have a different mindset than students and so we also have a different set of questions already prepared for them.
Open ended questions for parents
When you talk to parents, the aim should be to know what’s there in their hearts. Try to know if they are answering the questions genuinely. Are they facing difficulties in their parenthood?
But you cannot ask all these questions directly. Instead, opt for a subtle approach through these questions.
- What are the difficulties you faced while raising children?
- Describe your feeling about seeing your child for the first time.
- What did you want to be as a child?
- What are your dreams now?
- What would you like to do with your money?
- What is one thing you like the most about your child?
- Define love
- What were your fears when you knew you were about to conceive?
- How has a child changed your life?
- How is your child different from you?
- What parents’ tips would you like to give to new parents?
- What are a few problems your child is facing?
- When you are upset, how does it affect your child?
- How does your child’s behavior change according to your mood?
- What is the best advice you have given your child?
After talking to parents, you would certainly want to talk to their kids. And to get answers from kids, you have to become a kid.
Open ended questions for kids
Kids love to draw, paint, play, and indulge themselves in different activities. Usually, it is a daunting task to get them to share things and information.
But you can use these activities as your safeguard and frame your questions around them to know a child’s mindset. This will also help the kids to share their hearts with you.
- Which is your favorite shape and why?
- Why is summer your favorite season?
- What do you like to wear the most and why?
- Why is drawing your favorite hobby?
- How did you start drawing?
- Why do you like drawing more than reading books?
- What do you think of cartoons?
- Why should we share things?
- What is the best thing you have learned from reading books?
- Why don’t you like studying?
- Why don’t you like going to school?
- Which is your favorite place to visit and why?
- Why did you do this?
- What are you able to see at that distance?
- How do I solve this?
When you have talked to the kids and got the answers, it’s time to be an adult to analyze their answers.
Just like kids, you need to know what interests the adults and ask them leading questions based on their interest areas.
Open ended questions for adults
When you talk to adults, you have a diverse range of topics to discuss.
You can easily frame your questions around their work schedule, motivation, fear, personal life, etc. or you can do a mix and match of all these themes just like we did.
- What do you like about your office?
- What are the things you want to change in your workplace?
- What are the different smart approaches you use to finish your work faster?
- What is your biggest motivation? Why?
- What is your biggest pet peeve? Why?
- How did you discover your passion?
- What was the weirdest question asked to you in an interview?
- What is the biggest disadvantage of being an adult?
- What do you miss the most about being a child?
- What is one thing you can do as an adult that you couldn’t as a child?
- What do you do in your spare time?
- How much time can you spare for your passion?
- What is your idea of a perfect weekend?
- What is the best part of your day?
- How do you balance your personal and professional life?
But this is all for adults.
You cannot talk about the same things while you’re talking to a younger generation than them. Yes, for teens, it is all different.
Open ended questions for teens
Teenage is a very vulnerable age and this is the time when most of them need help from their parents or teachers. After all, they are at an age where they’re no longer a child nor an adult. They’re still trying to develop themselves and need a listening ear to get more guidance.
Shoot these open-ended questions at teens to know what they’re up to.
- Which rules do you want to break in school?
- What are the subjects that are taught in school but are absolutely useless in real life?
- Tell me the secrets of scoring high in your favorite subject.
- Who is your favorite teacher and why?
- How do you think the teacher-student relationship must be?
- What are the different traits you observe in your teacher?
- What are the qualities you have learned from your teacher?
- What are a few things that you are unable to talk about to your parents?
- Tell me a joke you have laughed the hardest on
- Which genre of movies do you like and why?
- What troubles are you facing in Maths?
- Why don’t you like a particular teacher?
- How do you make friends?
- What is the difference between you and other students in your class?
- What changes have you observed in yourself since last year?
This was all about teens. Depending on their answers, you can also frame your own questions until they start talking about dating.
Open ended questions for dates
When you’re on a date, you try to know a person in and out.
You’re on a date because you like the person. Hence, you need to know if their ideologies and thought processes match with you.
So, at this point, close-ended questions will be useless to you. Instead, ask these.
- What personality traits are you looking for in a person?
- Which animal would you like to keep as a pet and why?
- What’s the worst first date you have been on?
- What is the thing that immediately attracts you in a person?
- What is the first thing you notice in a person?
- What is the biggest turn-off?
- What can immediately turn you on?
- Which is the best pick-up line?
- How did you get your first proposal?
- What type of friends do you like?
- What do you like the most about relationships?
- What is the most embarrassing moment you had on a date?
- Tell me about the dating app culture
- What is your go-to relationship advice? Why?
- What’s romance to you?
Oh, this is how you interview somebody on a date. But what about the time when you are sitting in on a real interview?
Open ended interview questions
Open-ended questions are great communication starters. If you’re an HR and are interviewing candidates, we’ll strongly recommend you to take help of these open-ended questions to evaluate your candidate before selecting them.
And, if you are an interviewee, better start preparing these questions!
- Where do you see yourself in the next five years?
- What worries you about your future?
- Why do you think you are fit for this job?
- Why did you choose our company?
- What part of work excites you?
- How do you plan to manage a crisis?
- How do you manage your time?
- What is your idea about hard work?
- What would you like to do with your first salary?
- Why should we hire you?
- Who is your role model and why?
- Tell me something about your professional achievements
- How long have you been in the field?
- What does a typical workday look like for you?
- How have you imagined your growth graph to be?
These questions help you the best in knowing if the person you are selecting actually has the traits that you need for your company.
Wait. We also have some…
Open ended questions to ask a girl
In a conversation between a girl and a guy, it is usually found that the guy speaks and the girl answers. Then how to make the girl speak? This is one question that the boys want the answer to. Well, your hunt ends here.
Shoot these open-ended questions specifically meant for girls and see them chatter without end.
- Which is your favorite web series and why?
- What is your favorite memory?
- How have you changed as compared to a child?
- What do you love about babies?
- What activity seems extremely tiring for you?
- What is the place you often visit?
- Why do you like flowers?
- What’s the most immature thing your parents do?
- What do you think about life?
- What is your most unusual fear?
- Why do relationships scare you?
- What personality trait is toxic for you?
- What do you wish people would stop asking you?
- Tell me about your life’s biggest lesson.
- What have you missed in your life because of immaturity?
Similarly, we have a set of questions for boys too.
Open ended questions to ask a guy
Boys usually like intense talks. They can talk on random topics as well but they’ll hardly be interested in it. So, it gets a little tough to talk to a guy if he is not interested and giving one-word answers.
But what if we make them speak with these questions?
- What are you looking for in a girl?
- What are your family traditions?
- What is the biggest trouble you have been in?
- What is your favorite travel destination?
- What is your life goal?
- How important is money for you?
- What can you do to earn some extra bucks?
- How is your relationship with your parents?
- What is an awkward social situation?
- Which is your favorite hang-out place?
- What is your opinion on friendship?
- What are the illegal things you have done?
- What is a topic that you can keep talking about?
- What is one thing you want to change about society?
- What is your retirement plan?
Well, if you’re looking for something to ask your partner, here is our next list.
Open ended questions to ask your partner
After a point of time in every relationship, one of them becomes silent and the other one keeps digging in to know what is wrong. This leads to fights.
So, here are some custom questions for you that will help resolve the internal issues.
- What are your plans for us?
- What are the current problems you are facing?
- How can I make your day better?
- What would you do in life if money weren’t an issue?
- What did you enjoy the most today?
- What are some things you would want me to change?
- Describe me in few lines
- What superhero do you want to become?
- What would you like to change in us?
- What do you enjoy the most in our relationship?
- What are a few things that you want me to do for you?
- What is your idea of an ideal relationship?
- When do you miss me?
- What do you do when I am not around?
- What is your favorite memory of us?
And here are some more…
Open ended questions to ask a couple
If you have been married for a long time, you’ll observe that the two of you talk a lot less than your dating days. Why don’t you try to ignite the same spark with these questions?
- How do you want to spend your vacation?
- What makes you dislike a person?
- What do you want me to do for your family?
- What is a perfect day for you?
- How would you like to spend a day without me?
- What changes have I brought in your life?
- When did you last sing a song?
- What activity would you like to do with me?
- What quality would you want me to have?
- Tell your life story in four minutes
- What is my role in your life?
- What is your biggest regret?
- What do you feel grateful for?
- What is a secret that you have shared with nobody?
- How was your life without me?
Now, this is all about the people you have known for a long time, but what will you ask a person whom you have just met?
Open ended questions to ask someone
At times, you’re stuck in awkward social situations where you’re forced to meet and talk to people you know but have never met.
What do you talk about then? Don’t worry, we’ve got your back! Always.
- Which is your favorite musical band?
- How do you make your favorite dish?
- What is your worst travel experience?
- How would you define happiness?
- Where do you get peace?
- What importance does religion have in your life?
- How did going to school shape you as a person?
- Who is your closest friend and why?
- Which is your favorite city?
- Where do you live?
- What is your favorite book?
- Who is your favorite author and why?
- What appeals to you the most in Sports?
- What do you like the most about your hometown?
- What is one place in your neighborhood that you have never visited?
If you both haven’t vibed until now, you’ll need the help of a few more good questions so here they are:
Good open ended questions
You would want to keep the conversations clean when you’re talking to a person you hardly know.
At this point, you can try these good open ended questions to help dodge the awkward silences.
- How difficult is it for you to wake up early in the morning?
- What are your thoughts on exercise?
- Which exercises do you prefer and why?
- What is your idea about a perfect weekend?
- What kind of things upset you?
- How would you like to spend your holiday?
- What is an activity you love to do with your good friends?
- What do you do to relax yourself?
- How do you spend your coffee breaks?
- Comment on your work life
- How motivated are you to go to your office?
- What other profession would you choose if you were not in this field?
- How comfortable are you communicating with strangers?
- Who do you go to vent and why?
- How do you calm yourself?
And if you need something more, keep reading.
Best open ended questions
Do you know what’s best about these best open ended questions? They can be asked to anyone – a stranger or a person you’ve known for a long time. These questions never fail.
- Describe yourself
- How introverted are you?
- What do you think of an extrovert?
- How do you manage to travel to a new place all by yourself?
- Why do you love yourself?
- What is it like being near your parents?
- How have you spent your school life?
- Comment on your college days
- What makes you a proud family member?
- What part of yourself do you hide from social media?
- Which is your go-to application and why?
- How much time do you spend on social media?
- How easy is it for you to process some new information?
- How would you make a movie about your life?
- What bond do you share with your siblings?
Hey, have you given it a thought, what do you ask when you want to discuss a specific topic?
Open ended discussion questions
There will be times when you’ll be impressed by somebody’s personality and would like to know more about them.
In such cases, you would want to have deep discussions with them and wouldn’t want to settle for some ordinary questions. So, here’s your help.
- What do you think about work politics?
- What are the superstitions that you think are baseless?
- How has religion blinded people?
- What’s your political stand?
- Who is a great leader and why?
- What social issue you cannot stand by?
- How do you support NGOs?
- How important are ethics for you?
- What are a few qualities you cannot compromise?
- How did you spend time in COVID 19 quarantine?
- How did the pandemic change your life?
- How important is me-time for you?
- How important is self-respect for you?
- Which religion do you believe in and why?
- How do you think people can attain gratification?
The open ended questions can be used to discuss your problems too. Read further to know how.
Open ended questions in counseling
If you approach a therapist or a counselor, they’ll ask you open-ended questions only to fetch the utmost information about your problems. However, they are experienced. But what will you do if somebody brings their problem to you? How are you going to tackle it?
- What brings you here?
- How do you feel about the problem?
- What is the solution you’re thinking of?
- What do you see as the biggest problem?
- How did it all start?
- What precautions are you taking?
- What is your way of handling the problem?
- Tell me about the problem in detail
- How can you link the problem to your past?
- How does the problem change your mood?
- What is the change you want in your life?
- What is the advice your previous counselor gave you?
- What is your bond with your family?
- What does your friend say about it?
- Why do you think it is a problem?
Like said, open-ended questions are used to discuss problems too. But we didn’t only mean personal problems. They are equally useful in professional surveys too.
Open ended survey questions
If you’re conducting a survey to know how well your product is doing or to know about the audience’s taste and modify your product accordingly – You’ll certainly need to take help of these open-ended questions.
- What do you like about our product?
- What are the suggestions you would like to give?
- How can we improve our service?
- How is our product better than the competitors?
- Why do you buy our product?
- What are the things missing in our product?
- What is your first preference when you want to buy a thing?
- What factors do you consider before making a purchase?
- Where do you purchase from?
- What makes you like our product?
- Describe your experience you had using our product?
- What do you think about our product?
- What persuaded you to use our product among others?
- What problems have you experienced in the past with similar products?
- What would you like to see us do more online?
Conversations in person are completely different from conversations on text.
But don’t worry we have something for that too.
Open ended questions to ask a girl over text
If you’re talking to a girl whom you haven’t met yet, you wouldn’t want to get too personal but you would still like to know things about her.
This helps you decide if you want to take things forward. But you might not always know what can be a suitable question to ask. Plus, it gets more difficult with texts.
Here, pick some questions from this list!
- What do you plan to do this weekend?
- What is interesting about the TV show you are watching?
- Which cuisines do you prefer?
- Tell me about the highlights of your week.
- How did you spend your day today?
- What is your regular routine?
- Tell me about a memory you can never forget.
- What is the weirdest thing in the world?
- Why are you not seeing anybody?
- What is your plan over the weekend?
- Where do you want to be right now?
- What would you do if you’re left deserted?
- How do you spend your time when you’re alone?
- Where do you like spending your holidays?
- Which is your favorite makeup brand? Why?
Similarly, if you’re talking to a guy over text, the questions can be.
Open ended questions to ask a guy over text
Most guys suck on texts. If you don’t know how to start a conversation or the questions, you will find yourself stuck.
So, pick some from these and save yourself the effort.
- What’s on your bucket list?
- What are your favorite OTT platforms?
- What do you do on weekends?
- Which exercises do you do while working out?
- What is your opinion on tattoos?
- As a child, what was your favorite video game?
- How did your mom make you sit for studies?
- What is your obsession?
- What’s your go-to dirty joke?
- Tell me about your coolest trip.
- What is your midnight adventure memory?
- How do you like to spend your free time?
- When and with whom do you like to party the most?
- What is one thing that you never want to do again?
- Which songs do you sing while taking a shower?
These questions are from the topics that the boys are usually interested in. So, there are hardly any chances that they’ll try to avoid these. You get your answers and the conversation goes on. Isn’t it a win-win situation for you?
So, these were some categories and the open-ended questions based on them, that will be useful to you in your day-to-day life.
Now let us have a close look at understanding the difference between open ended questions and close ended questions.
Bonus: Open Ended questions vs Closed Ended Questions!
If we talk about the importance of open and close-ended questions in terms of business, they’re extremely useful.
When you use them in an online survey or a physical survey, they give you the data points to analyze your product service. Based on the response, you can modify your products depending on the customer’s taste.
Open-ended questions allow the customers to give their own feedback in their own words. The answers can then be analyzed with the help of spreadsheets.
If you want additional information more than numbers, then you must always go for open-ended questions. This gives you the perspective of the consumer’s mind.
On the flip side, close-ended questions are usually with multiple-choice answer options from which the respondent has to select one. Hence, the answer gets limited.
You should use close-ended questions if you want to prepare graphs and analyze trends and percentages. This helps you to compare the data and know the preferences of the customers.
Here’s a quick glance at the difference between open ended and closed ended questions.
|Open-ended questions||Close-ended questions|
|Allows customers to answer anything||Answer is from limited options|
|Elaborated answer||Usually one word answer|
|Used for qualitative data||Used for quantitative data|
Over to you…
If you have reached here, you already know where to use the open ended and close ended questions. Knowledge of its usage is extremely necessary for our daily life as it helps you fetch the right information.
If you fail to collect the desired data, then all your hard work will be rendered waste.
Hence, study and revise your questions thoroughly before putting them in front of your audience. Understand if they’re giving you the answer you want. If needed, test it on a few people before the discussion.
And when in doubt, just keep this think-piece handy… and I am sure, you will find your answer! 😊
If you are looking for ‘Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader Questions‘ to ask someone then do click here.
Surabhi has a deep passion for words. She puts her heart and mind into whatever she pursues and craves for creative ventures. She has always been keen on creating original content that can make a difference. In her experience as a content writer, she has had the opportunity to work on several fields with Psychology being her favorite. Surabhi says, words have the power to transform the world, better than a sword. So she hopes to contribute her bit to this revolution. At ThePleasantConversation, she feels lucky to have the opportunity to share content capable of bringing about a change in the lives of the readers.