Generating Open-Ended Interview Questions

John McBride
Fort Dodge Senior High
Fort Dodge, Iowa

Lesson title: Generating open-ended interview questions


  • To teach kids how to develop solid, open-ended questions based on subject they are interviewing.


Lesson takes about 20-25 minutes, depending on how much you want to share.

5 minutes: Discussion of open-ended questions.

  • Discuss the difference between open and close ended questions and how open are better.
  • Show students how closed-ended questions can slow interview.

20 minutes: After discussion, students will dig into purses, pockets, backpacks, for appropriate interview subject. I have had students interview their nail clippers, hair brushes, even old candy wrappers.

  • Students will then generate 15-20 questions for their subject (i.e., what’s it like being a nail clipper? Do you work better on toes or fingers?) All questions must relate to their “subject” and must be open-ended.

After making sure students have generated enough questions (and helping those that are stuck), I have students share with class their interview subject and interview questions. If they have a closed-ended question, I challenge others in class to re-word it into an open-ended one.

We usually get some good, fun questions. I actually had one student interview his pants (and he took them off and sat them on his desk while he developed questions!)