Appendix 5

Types of Questions

TypeExampleUseful for

Wide open questions

Where more than one word answers must be given

What, how, why?Getting them talking

Half open questions

Where one word answers would suffice

Where, when, who?Getting information on detail

Closed questions

Where a yes/no is needed

Would you…? Have you…?Gaining commitment

Leading questions

Where the question leads the listener to a particular answer

Are you still beating your wife?Getting them to admit something to themselves

Hypothetical questions

Where a hypothetical picture is painted for an answer

How might you set about…?Approaching a situation that is new/strange to them

Probing questions

Where more detail is sought

Tell me more. What next?Exploring particular events/possibilities

Think through questions

Where the questioner helps or forces the speaker to think through possible consequences

What will that do? How will X react?Getting them to identify consequences for themselves

Reflective questions

Where the questioner reflects what the speaker has just said

So you think…? Five children?Presenting back to them their own words/thoughts

Either/or questions

Where a simple alternative is posed for selection

Which would you…? 3 or 4?Gaining commitment or a decision


Where no question is asked but the speaker is encouraged to keep talking

Silence, mmmm Showing encouragement without interrupting

Adapted from ‘Volunteer Mentoring Service’ manual, Volunteer Development Scotland

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