4 Tips for Asking Really Great Interview Questions


Whether you’re doing a phone interview with a time-pressed executive or an in-person session with a local celebrity there’s a trick to getting the right material and it’s not all up to the person being interviewed. Below are 4 time-tested tips to help you interview someone and get fantastic results.

Get Beyond Yes/No Answers
The easiest way to avoid the DOA yes/no answer is to ask open-ended questions during the interview. This allows the interviewee to get into “why” territory rather than just agreeing or disagreeing with a statement you put in front of them.

Don’t: Do you think dogs are the best pet?

Do: What is it about dogs that makes them the best pet?

Get a Story Going
Storytelling is a surefire way to engage an audience and ingrain yourself into their memories. Whether you’re putting together an article or interviewing someone for a job, asking them to tell a story from their experiences will hook readers and help illuminate someone’s personality more uniquely.

Don’t: Have you ever had a dog?

Do: What was it like the day you got your first dog?

Go for Emotion
Just like storytelling, emotion draws people in. Details and hard data are good for some things, but getting to know a person is not one of them. Ask questions that will bring out some kind of emotion from the interviewee and document how the person seems to feel while answering your questions. Once you get the knack of it you’ll just sit back and watch it happen.

Don’t: Were you sad when your dog died?

Do: Tell us about the day you had to put your dog down.

Do the Right Prep Work
Basically, do your homework and use common sense. If you know the person you are about to interview for a video is very camera-shy, be prepared to make the person feel comfortable with the camera before the interview begins. If, when you meet the person, you can sense that he or she likes to talk a little too much, be able to control the conversation to keep the interview on track. Know what questions to give to your subject ahead of time and which questions to save and surprise them with. Know the facts before you start the interview so you can get right to the good stuff.

Don’t: So, what’s going on with you right now?

Do: A year ago you said you’d never work in an animal shelter yet here you are running one. What changed?

It’s amazing how different an interview can be when you use these tips to really draw out the extraordinary stories that each of us has inside. Got some more interview advice? Share it below!


  • Great post, Jon! Definitely a must share with my friends in recruiter-land. I think open-ended questions are also a key component in relationship building. You have the opportunity to have back-and-fourth, balanced conversations– for the interviewee, in the end it’s not really about the questions you asked, it’s how you made them feel when they left the building.

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