Most of the time when you’re interviewing a source you don’t want to ask yes or no questions. Nothing kills a interview faster than a transcript full of ‘Yes,’ ‘No,’ and ‘I don’t know’s.’ There are times, however, when a yes/no question is both useful and necessary. The key is the follow up.
Often a good interview subject will answer the question and then elaborate on why they feel that way. If they don’t it’s up to you to ask them to give more detail. How you do it is important.
For example, say you’re interviewing a politician who has an opposition to the proposed new budget:
You: “Do you think the new budget will positively impact the city?”
Several follow-up questions could be asked here:
- What would you like to see eliminated/added?
- Do you have a better plan that would work in the current economic environment?
- Are the issues you have with the proposed budget deal breakers or is there room for compromise?
Following up a yes/no question takes a bit of thought, but it allows you both to go deeper into the subject in a variety of ways. A simple question can open the door to so much more.