Open-ended Questions

Open Ended Questions | How to Ask Good Open-ended Questions

Open-ended questions are inquiries that begin with words like “why,” “how,” or “what.” Unlike simple “yes” or “no” answers to close-ended queries, open-ended queries require a more detailed response. They nudge the survey participants to share their thoughts and feelings, providing insights that a single-word answer cannot.

These questions spark conversations by design. For example, asking, “Where do you want to be in five years?” cannot be answered with one word. It requires the person to reflect and provide a unique perspective, often leading to a deeper discussion.

The purpose of open-ended survey questions is to gather more than just straightforward answers. They prompt the open question survey participants to consider their response and think deeply about what is being asked. This approach helps uncover insights and sentiment trends that might otherwise go unnoticed.

Open-ended queries are powerful tools for understanding deeper feelings or ideas. They act as bridges to meaningful conversations, leading to richer exchanges of thoughts and insights.

In this article, we will explore the definition of open-ended questions, how to create open ended questions, sample open ended survey questions, and more.

Key Takeaways

  • Encourages Detailed Responses: Open-ended queries, starting with words like “why,” “how,” or “what,” require more than a yes or no answer, prompting in-depth responses that reveal thoughts and feelings.
  • Sparks Conversation: These questions are designed to initiate deeper discussions, often leading to meaningful conversations that uncover insights and trends that simple closed-ended queries might miss.
  • Useful in Various Settings: Open-ended queries are valuable in different contexts, such as understanding customer motivations, improving marketing strategies, and fostering employee engagement, making them versatile tools for gathering qualitative data.
  • Balancing with Closed-ended Questions: Combining open-ended and closed-ended survey questions provides a fuller picture. Open-ended questions offer context and nuances, while closed-ended queries provide clear, analyzable data.

Open-ended and Closed-ended Questions: Difference

Open-ended and closed-ended queries gather different types of survey data. Open-ended queries collect qualitative data, which helps understand thoughts and feelings. In contrast, closed-ended queries collect quantitative data through predetermined answers.

Good open ended questions often start with “why,” “how,” or “what if?” and encourage longer, detailed open ended answers. These questions allow individuals responding to express their feedback in their own words, offering a deeper insight into their perspectives. Open-ended queries are especially useful in initial discovery calls with prospects or new customers.

On the other hand, close-ended questions typically have one-word answers, such as “yes” or “no,” or by selecting from a set of predetermined options. These questions are ideal for gathering specific information quickly, such as the size of a prospect’s company or its annual revenue.

Combining both types of questions provides a fuller picture of your survey results. Open-ended queries help you understand the nuances and context, while closed-ended queries offer clear, easily analyzable data. This mix ensures you get detailed insights and straightforward statistics, enabling better analysis and decision-making.

When to Use Questions that are Open Ended

Open-ended queries are valuable in any survey, but it’s essential to understand the type of feedback you want and why. Here are key times when open-ended questions can be most beneficial:

Understanding Context and Taking Action

After a closed-ended query, an open-ended follow-up can reveal the “why” behind the initial response. For instance, if 40% of those responding say they wouldn’t shop with you again, asking why can help you address and fix those issues. This is crucial for improving customer experiences and reducing churn.

Learning About Your Audience

Open-ended queries can provide insights into your customers’ motivations and needs when developing marketing campaigns and brand messaging. Ask open ended questions about their purchase drivers, current brand preferences, and what they look for in products. This helps create buyer personas and tailor your products to meet their expectations.

Understanding Employee Sentiment

Open-ended queries in employee surveys can uncover detailed insights about employee satisfaction and engagement. Allowing employees to share thoughts anonymously on benefits, leadership, or policy changes can reveal important aspects of their experience.

Conducting Research on Product and Market

Use open-ended queries in product/market fit surveys to gather detailed feedback on new or existing products. This helps ensure your product meets market needs and stays competitive.

Sparking Deep Thinking

Open-ended questions can be used effectively in live settings or self-paced surveys to encourage deep thinking and discussion. They are great for initiating debates, expanding on answers, and boosting participation and engagement.

Enhancing Educational and Team Environments

In educational settings, such questions as “How can we make learning this easier for you?” can foster open communication and enhance the learning experience. In team meetings, asking open questions such as “What can we do to deliver our projects better?” can lead to valuable suggestions and deeper understanding.

Gaining Deeper Insights

Deep open ended questions transform basic interactions into meaningful conversations. Whether in customer service, team discussions, or surveys like Net Promoter Score (NPS), these questions add context and depth, helping you achieve your ultimate goals. They invite open ended responses, making every interaction an opportunity for greater understanding and learning.

Crafting Open-ended Questions: Tips

Open-ended Questions Tips

Following are some helpful tips on how to write an open question:

Assess the Need for Open-ended Questions

Before adding open-ended queries to your survey, consider whether they are necessary. Closed-ended queries work well for straightforward information like age or gender. Use open-ended questions for opinions, feelings, and thoughts to be expressed freely.

Restrict the Number of Open-ended Questions

Not all questions should be open-ended. Limiting these questions can make your survey shorter and more appealing, boosting response rates. 

Rework Closed-ended Questions

Practice turning closed-ended questions into open-ended ones. For example, instead of asking, “How likely are you to recommend our company?” try to ask, “What would motivate you to recommend our company?”

Make Some Questions Optional

Too many required open-ended queries can lower your survey completion rate. Consider making them optional, especially if your survey is long.

Understand the Differences Between Open and Closed Questions

Know the difference between open and closed-ended queries. Use open-ended questions to get detailed feedback and avoid leading response-givers to specific answers.

Formulate an Open-ended Questions List

Before creating your survey, prepare a list of open-ended queries. Questions like “Why do you think competitive market research is important?” or “What motivates you at work?” provide valuable insights.

Follow Closed-ended Questions with Open-ended Ones

If you can’t avoid a closed-ended query, follow it with an open one. For example, ask, “Do you think the product was efficient?” and then, “How can we improve the product?”

Welcome Negative Feedback

Phrase your questions neutrally to encourage honest feedback. Instead of “We hope there wasn’t anything bad about your experience,” try “Let us know if there was anything we could do differently.”

Don’t Ask Leading Questions

Don’t lead with your questions. For instance, avoid asking, “You bought 300 apples; what’s your favorite fruit?” Allow spontaneous answers for more genuine insights.

Keep It Simple

Keep your survey simple and concise. Short questions and a limited number of them help maintain attention and improve completion rates.

Leverage Broad Open-ended Questions

In interviews, replace multiple factual questions with broad, open-ended ones. For example, instead of “Do you have children?” ask, “Tell me a bit about yourself.”

Start Questions with How, What, or Why

Use starters like “How,” “What,” and “Why” to encourage detailed answers. For example, “How did you come up with this idea?” or “Why do you think this approach works best?”

Practice Active Listening

Show genuine interest in the answers. For more detailed information, follow up with probing questions like “Can you expand on that?” or “What do you mean by that?”

Open-ended Questions: Benefits

Open-ended Questions: Benefits

Open Discussion

Open-ended queries let people share their thoughts without limits. They can talk about their feelings, experiences, and views in detail, which isn’t possible with simple yes-or-no questions.


Open-ended queries show appreciation. They allow users to share more creatively, making the process feel less like a chore and more like a conversation.

Foster Creativity

People often surprise with their detailed answers, showcasing creativity and vision. This can include links to their work or even poetry, adding a personal touch.

Respond Freely

Open-ended queries allow users to respond in their own way, whether writing a lot or sharing specific details. This freedom keeps them engaged and thoughtful in their answers.

Business Innovation

One advantage of open-ended questions is that they can offer valuable marketing tips and innovative ideas that mightboost future profits.

Simplify Issues

For complex issues, simple yes-or-no answers aren’t enough. Open-ended questions allow for the in-depth discussion needed to address intricate problems.

Candid Feedback

These questions are ideal for situations where detailed feedback is required. They help users explain the issues they’re facing with products or services.

Customer Insights

By allowing respondents to express their opinions, companies can gain insightful information that might go unnoticed.

Consumer Behavior

The answers to open-ended queries can reveal how respondents think, including their logic, language, and choice of references. This helps in understanding their thought processes.

Unexpected Discoveries

Open-ended queries often reveal information that wasn’t anticipated. Respondents might share new motivations, behaviors, and concerns with the questioner, leading to surprising insights.

In-depth Understanding

These questions delve deeper, uncovering more than surface-level information, leading to richer, more informative conversations.

Better Communication

By fostering a two-way dialogue, open-ended queries make interactions more engaging and meaningful.

Building Relationships

When people feel heard, it builds trust and rapport. Open-ended questions help in creating this sense of being valued.


Such questions prompt reflection and enhance critical thinking skills, contributing to personal growth and awareness.

Finding Solutions

Identifying core issues through detailed responses paves the way for effective problem-solving.

Open-ended queries go beyond just collecting data. They promote understanding, encourage detailed responses, and foster a culture of open communication and meaningful interactions.

Attributes of a Good Open-ended Question

Attributes of a Good Open-ended Question

When crafting open-ended queries, showing genuine interest and curiosity is essential. Think about what you genuinely want to know from the respondents. Here are some key attributes of an excellent open-ended question:

Genuine Curiosity

Show real interest in the responses. This makes your questions more meaningful and helps you get the necessary information.


Keep your questions clear and straightforward. Avoid complicated language or structure to ensure respondents understand what you’re asking.

Unbiased Tone

Use neutral language to avoid leading or biased words. This encourages honest and unbiased answers.

Empathic Verbs

Use verbs that focus on thoughts and emotions, such as ‘think,’ ‘feel,’ or ‘believe.’ These verbs encourage respondents to give more thoughtful and detailed answers.


Frame your questions to avoid sounding accusatory. For instance, instead of asking, “Why did you choose this method?” try “What led you to choose this method?” This phrasing feels less defensive and invites more open responses.

By incorporating these attributes, your open-ended queries elicit insightful and genuine responses more effectively.

Open-ended Questions: Examples

Examples of Open-ended Question

Following are some excellent open ended survey question examples:

Business Operations

What new ideas do you have to grow our business?

– Why it’s good: Encourages creative thinking and a wide range of responses.

How can we improve our company culture?

– Why it’s good: Opens up discussion about employee experiences and suggestions.

What challenges do you see in our industry?

– Why it’s good: Promotes sharing of insights and potential obstacles.

How do you think we can better serve our customers?

– Why it’s good: Invites suggestions for customer-focused improvements.

What are your thoughts on our current business strategy?

– Why it’s good: Encourages feedback on strategic direction.

Sales & Marketing

What strategies have worked best for you in closing sales?

– Why it’s good: Allows sharing of successful tactics and experiences.

How do you keep your customers engaged with our brand?

– Why it’s good: Invites creative methods for maintaining customer interest.

What changes would you suggest for our marketing campaigns?

– Why it’s good: Encourages fresh ideas and perspectives.

How do you measure the success of your sales efforts?

– Why it’s good: Opens discussion on metrics and effectiveness.

What trends are you noticing in our market?

– Why it’s good: Promotes awareness of new trends and shifts.


What are the biggest IT challenges we face?

– Why it’s good: Encourages identifying key issues and potential solutions.

How can we improve our cybersecurity measures?

– Why it’s good: Invites suggestions for enhancing security protocols.

What new technologies should we consider adopting?

– Why it’s good: Opens up discussion on innovative tools and systems.

How do you ensure our systems run efficiently?

– Why it’s good: Encourages sharing of best practices and strategies.

What feedback do you have about our current IT infrastructure?

– Why it’s good: Invites constructive criticism and improvement ideas.

Customer Service

How do you handle difficult customer situations?

– Why it’s good: Encourages sharing of strategies and experiences.

What improvements would you suggest for our customer service processes?

– Why it’s good: Invites feedback on process enhancement.

How do you stay motivated in a customer-facing role?

– Why it’s good: Promotes discussion on maintaining morale and enthusiasm.

What common issues do customers face, and how can we address them?

– Why it’s good: Encourages identification of recurring problems and solutions.

How do you think we can enhance the customer experience?

– Why it’s good: Invites creative ideas to improve customer satisfaction.


What can we do to improve employee retention?

– Why it’s good: Promotes discussion on keeping employees happy and engaged.

How can we make our recruitment process better?

– Why it’s good: Invites suggestions for attracting top talent.

What training programs do you find most effective?

– Why it’s good: Encourages sharing of successful development methods.

How can we create a more inclusive workplace?

– Why it’s good: Opens up discussion on diversity and inclusion initiatives.

What feedback do you have about our employee benefits?

– Why it’s good: Invites suggestions for improving benefits and perks.


What strategies do you suggest for better budget management?

– Why it’s good: Encourages practical tips and methods for financial control.

How can we improve our financial reporting process?

– Why it’s good: Invites feedback on enhancing accuracy and efficiency.

What financial risks should we be aware of?

– Why it’s good: Promotes awareness and discussion of potential threats.

How do you think we can reduce our operational costs?

– Why it’s good: Encourages cost-saving ideas and strategies.

What financial goals should we set for the next year?

– Why it’s good: Opens discussion on future planning and targets.

These are good examples of open-ended questions because they encourage detailed responses, promote discussion, and elicit various perspectives and ideas. These open ended questions examples avoid simple yes/no answers and instead invite deeper thinking and sharing of insights.

Open-ended Questions: Purposeful Conversations

Open-ended queries are essential tools for deeper understanding and richer interactions. They start with words like “why,” “how,” or “what,” encouraging detailed responses rather than simple yes or no answers. These questions foster meaningful conversations, enabling respondents to share their thoughts and feelings more comprehensively.

The primary advantage of open-ended queries is their ability to reveal insights that might otherwise go unnoticed. For instance, asking, “Where do you want to be in five years?” prompts introspection and detailed answers, often leading to more profound discussions. Such questions are invaluable for understanding motivations, uncovering trends, and gaining non-quantitative data.

In contrast to closed-ended queries, which gather quantitative data and are useful for specific information, open-ended questions provide context and depth. This combination of question types in surveys and discussions ensures a comprehensive understanding of respondents’ perspectives.

Using open-ended queries strategically can enhance customer experiences, improve marketing strategies, and foster better employee engagement. They transform interactions into opportunities for greater understanding and innovation, making them indispensable in various settings. By asking open-ended queries, you unlock the potential for deeper insights and more meaningful connections.


1. Define what is an open-ended question

Open-ended queries are inquiries that start with words like “why,” “how,” or “what.” Unlike a simple “yes” or “no” answer to closed-ended questions, open-ended queries require detailed responses. They encourage respondents to share their thoughts and feelings, leading to deeper conversations and insights.

2. Showcase the difference between open and closed questions

Open ended questions in qualitative research prompt detailed answers, whereas closed-ended questions collect quantitative data through predetermined answers. Open-ended queries provide context and depth, while closed-ended ones offer specific, easily analyzable information.

3. State the benefits of asking open-ended questions

Open-ended queries allow for open discussion, foster creativity, and provide candid feedback. They help uncover detailed insights into customer and employee sentiments, lead to better communication, and build trust by showing respondents that their opinions are valued.

Master the Art of Open-ended Questions with Prezentium

Are you looking to elevate your business presentations and truly engage your audience? Prezentium can help you master asking great open-ended queries, transforming ordinary interactions into meaningful conversations. Our AI-powered services, including Overnight Presentations, Accelerators, and Zenith Learning, combine business insight, visual design, and data science to craft compelling presentations and training programs. 

Open-ended queries are pivotal in fostering deeper discussions and uncovering valuable insights. They encourage detailed responses, helping you comprehensively understand your clients’ needs, employee sentiments, and market trends. For example, questions like “How can we improve our service?” prompt reflective answers that provide actionable feedback. You can create more engaging and impactful communications by incorporating these techniques into your presentations and meetings.

Partner with Prezentium to not only enhance your presentation skills but also to leverage the power of open-ended queries in every business interaction. Elevate your communication, drive innovation, and achieve your business goals with our expert services. Contact us today to learn more about how we can transform your presentations and training programs.

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