Job Interview Questions – Open-Ended Vs Close Ended

There are two types of questions you can ask a candidate during an interview, open-ended questions and closed-ended questions. But which type of questions is better? Below is a list of the positives and negatives of each.

Open-Ended Questions

Definition: An open-ended question gives candidates the ability to state their response and elaborate on it.

Examples: “Tell me about your past work experience.” “What are you looking to gain from your next position?” “Why do you want to work for our company?”

Positive Side of Having Open-Ended Job Interview Questions

  • Gives candidate the ability to expand on their knowledge
  • Gives candidate the freedom to expand on their strengths
  • Allows employer to test candidate’s ability to articulate their previous work experience
  • Gives candidate ability to elaborate on past job experiences
  • Allows employer to test candidate’s motivation level
  • Allows employer to test candidate’s communication skills
  • Allows employer to test candidate’s ability to problem solve
  • Allows employer to get a feel for candidate’s potential
  • Allows employer to determine if candidate is a cultural fit
  • Allows employer to determine candidate’s level of interest
  • Allows employer to look for noticeable concerns

Negative Side of Having Open-Ended Job Interview Questions

  • Miscommunication between employer and candidate
  • Candidate may take up a significant amount of time in answering a question
  • Depending upon schedule, employer may run out of time and will be unable to ask the remaining job interview questions
  • Candidate may answer the questions based upon what they thing the employer wants to hear instead of how they really feel

Close-Ended Questions

Definition: A close-ended question limits candidates to choosing a particular, solid answer.

Examples: “How many years of experience do you have as a team leader?” “What was your GPA?” “Have you ever worked from home?”

Positive Side of Having Close-Ended Job Interview Questions

  • Allows employer to receive a direct response from the candidate
  • Gives employer control of the question and response
  • Allows employer to uncover specific information from and about the candidate
  • Gives employer full control of the direction of the interview

Negative Side of Having Close-Ended Job Interview Questions

  • Does not allow candidate to elaborate on their feelings or preferences towards topic
  • Limits candidate from being able to demonstrate their abilities
  • Leaves certain situations unanswered or unclear
  • Frustrates candidates in not being able to explain or state relevant data