Expert interviews 1 Asking questions

Interviews are all about asking the right question

Asking the right question is key to getting the right answer. We will practice direct and indirect questions, and we’ll use a variety of ways of asking questions.

Introduction: 

Asking the right question is key to getting the right answer. Of course you will go into an interview with prepared questions, but as the course of conversation changes, you will need to quickly come up with a wide range of professional questions. We will practice direct and indirect questions, and we’ll use a variety of ways to ask question politely.

Warm Up: 

Have you done interviews? Did any unexpected information come up? If so, what do you do when interviewees offer unexpected information?

Language: 

Here are some ways to ask indirect questions. Please choose two from each group and practice saying them smoothly and naturally. We’ll use a simple question: "What time is it?"

These are popular ways of asking indirect questions:

  • Do you know what time it is?
  • Can you tell me what time it is?
  • Could you tell me what time it is?
  • Would you mind telling me what time it is?

You can state what you want to know.

  • I’d like to know what time it is.
  • I’m wondering what time it is.
  • I was just wondering what time it is.

If the interviewee may not know the answer:

  • Do you happen to know what time it is exactly?
  • Do you have any idea what time it is exactly?
  • Is there any chance you can tell me what time it is exactly?

Practice smooth, natural pronunciation with your instructor.

Practice: 

1. Making indirect questions from direct questions

Your instructor will say a direct question, and you can use these phrases to ask smooth indirect questions. Try to do this as quickly as possible.

For example:

Instructor: What time is the meeting going to start?
Student: I was just wondering what time the meeting is going to start.

Now, try more questions with your instructor.

2. Getting more detail

Next, try to find out as much detail as possible about a topic. Your instructor will say a sentence. Ask as many questions as possible about it—questions can be related to what was just said, or not.

Here's an example, the instructor is A.

A: I went to Thailand
B: Oh? where in Thailand did you go?
A: Well we landed in Bangkok, and were were there for a day before we went to Chumphon
B: Ok, can you tell me where exactly that is?
A: It's south of Bangkok, about an hour by plane.
B: Sounds nice, so what did you do there?
A: Oh, all kinds of things: we went scuba diving, and my friend tried kite boarding.
B: Can you tell me a bit more about kite boarding?
A: Sure, it's like windsurfing, but you use a kite instead of a sail. It looked pretty interesting.
B: Oh, and I actually have a question about Chumphon. Do you have any idea how many  people live there?
A: Sorry, I'm not really sure.

Now, try with a new topic. Ask when it happened, what time, who was there, and as many other questions as you can.