What Are Open-Ended, Close-Ended Questions? Definition, Examples

Open-ended question definition: Open-ended questions are questions that have unlimited response options.

Close-ended question definition: Close-ended questions are questions that have limited response options.

What is an Open-ended Question?

Open-ended questions are questions that allow for various response options. Open-ended questions do not expect a particular answer. Rather, they allow the individual providing the response to answer however he chooses.

Examples of Open-ended Questions

  • Open ended questions examples Where did you go today?
  • What was your childhood like?
  • How did you decide to enter this profession?
  • When would you like to visit the museum?

Open-ended questions are common in job interviews.

What is a Close-ended Question?

Open and closed questionnaire Close-ended questions are questions that do not allow for various response options. Close-ended questions expect a particular answer.

The answers to close-ended questions are limited and require certain answers.

Typically, close-ended questions lend themselves to “yes” or “no” responses. Furthermore, close-ended questions are usually specific in nature.

Examples of Close-ended Questions

  • Did you attend the conference?
  • Will you eat dinner with us?
  • Do you like vanilla ice cream?
  • When were you born?

As you can see, the answers to these questions will be much less involved than those of the open question.

Open-End Questions vs. Close-Ended Questions

Open-ended questions and close-ended questions are different in that they elicit very different responses.

The following questions illustrate close- and open-ended questions side-by-side. The questions are similar in subject matter, but the responses will vary depending on the question style.

Open-ended vs. Close-ended Questions:

  1. What is your favorite ice cream flavor? / Do you like chocolate ice cream?
  2. How are you feeling? / Are you feeling well?
  3. What are you plans this evening? / Do you have dinner plans?
  4. What homework do you have to complete? / Do you have math homework?
  5. Where is your shirt? / Is your shirt in the closet?
  6. Where should I buy a new blouse? / Should I buy a blouse at the mall?
  7. When is your birthday? / Is your birthday in May?
  8. What books did you read this summer? / Did you read a book from the suggested list?
  9. Where is your next vacation? / Do you think you will go to Europe soon?
  10. How did you meet your husband? / Are you married?

As you can see from these examples, each question type brings out a different kind of response. Close-ended questions are more specific, while open-ended ones are much more “open.”

How Is Each Question Used?

Open ended interview questions Open-ended questions are best used when you are trying to learn about a particular subject. They are best when engaging in a meaningful conversation. Some possible situations that call for open-ended questions are a first date, a job interview, an essay-response test, or intimate conversation with someone.

Close-ended questions are best used when you want a short, direct answer to a very specific question. They are less personal in nature and are best used when the person asking wants a quick answer.

Exercises

Are the following questions open- or close-ended questions?

  1. Will you attend the dance tonight?
  2. How will you evade the storm?
  3. Did you bring the camera?
  4. Why can’t I join you?
  5. Would you like a new dress?

See answers below.

Summary: What Are Open-Ended, Close-Ended Questions?

Define open-ended question: an open-ended question is a question that does not expect a specific, narrow answer.

Define closed-ended question: a close-ended question is a question that expects a specific answer and does not give leeway outside of that answer.

In summary,

  • Open-ended questions are broad and do not expect a specific answer.
  • Close-ended questions are limiting and expect a specific answer.

Answers

  1. Closed
  2. Open
  3. Closed
  4. Open
  5. Closed