Types of interview question
- Opening questions
These are warm-up questions which are easy for the interviewee to answer. They do not have to be about your research. You only need one or two. Examples:
- Why did you become a graphic designer?
- I particularly like your designs for xxxx. What was your inspiration?
- Closed questions
These are designed to give you specific information. They are easy and quick to answer and invite one-word or very short answers. They give the interviewer control as you can use them to get your interviewee to say something definite. They can also be used to regain control from a very talkative person. Examples:
- How long have you been a practising designer?
- Where did you study graphic design?
- As both a writer and designer which one is more important to you?
- You talk about your role as a curator. Has this made you a more creative designer?
- Open questions
These questions encourage your interviewee to say a lot and are good for exploring opinions, attitudes and feelings. They may turn up unexpected areas for you to explore. Examples:
- Why did you expand your design practice to include authorial work?
- How do you encourage students to follow your design path?
- Can you describe how you first got into graphic design?
- Probing questions
These are supplementary or follow-up questions and allow you explore what your interviewee has said. Examples:
- When talking about your design work with a large advertising agency you mentioned you were invited to curate an exhibition at MOMA. How did this change your design direction?
- You say the design of the 1980s was the most exciting to you. Can you say why this is?
- You have talked about thinking being the most important part of the design process. Can you give an example of when this worked very well for you?
- Hypothetical questions
These are useful if you feel that you haven’t gained what you wanted from the interview or if, perhaps, your interviewee doesn’t have a huge background in your area of research. Examples:
- Supposing you were given the opportunity to generate new design perspectives within the new social media, what would be your starting point?
- How would you handle a situation where your client questioned your design approach? Is the client always right?
- Leading or biased questions
These reveal more about the interviewer than the interviewee. They are based on the interviewer’s assumptions and do not invite true or real responses from the interviewee. Examples:
- I have read that you feel that it is difficult to exhibit designs to both designers and visitors. Surely it can’t be that difficult especially in these days when we could argue that we are all designers?
- In this age of accessible media we are all surely designers! Can you say why this is the case?
- Heavily prefaced and multiple questions
Questions with a long lead-in and those that are split into many parts can confuse the interviewee and mean you do not gain the response you are looking for. Examples:
- You have said that writing, curating and designing all fit together because design gives a physical form to the ideas generated through writing and designing. Not only that you say designs depend on the deployment of so many elements to make them tell a story or create a narrative that is important to the audience. How do these all fit together in what we might call successful design for both other designers, clients and audience, if indeed we can separate them?
- What led you to curating from writing and from there to designing? What were the pivotal points at each stage? How did each one effect your development and progression to the next?