Open-ended questions give the candidates a chance to explain themselves and their experiences. Words that begin open-ended questions are:
- What, Why, How, Tell Me, Describe, Explain, Compare, and Contrast
You should avoid direct or closed-ended questions (i.e. questions that lead to a simple yes/no response). For example, avoid using these opening words:
- Should, Is, Did, Do, Could, Would, Will
Examples of good questions
- Tell me about your school: courses, teachers, favorite subject, worst subject?
- What are the strengths and weakness of your school?
- What is your overall evaluation of your high school experience?
- If you could change your high school experience, what changes would you make?
- What are your future plans: college, major, career?
- Compare your senior year to the rest of high school. What do you expect of your senior year?
- What is a highlight of your high school experience? Is there something that will stand out; something that you will always remember?
- In high school, what would you like to turn into an independent study? If you could take any subject and expand it, what would that subject be?
- What makes a good teacher?
- What would be your teachers' recollection of you if one of two of them sat down to discuss you a year from now?
- What is your favorite book? Is there a literary character with whom you identify?
- Is there a project, paper, lab, etc. that you were especially proud of when you completed it?
- If you could get a national grant to research something, what would you want to study/research?
- What school activities are you involved in: which are the most important; to which you have contributed most?
- What are your outside activities: community, hobbies?
- What has being a member of a team taught you?
- (If a student government leader): What was your campaign platform?
- Has there been a hot topic at your school as of late?
- What kinds of activities would you like to pursue in college?
- What would you do with a free day? Academic or otherwise?
- What did you do this past summer?
- Anything you have done or experienced of which you are most proud or about which we should be aware?
- To date, what have been some of your more important responsibilities?
- What would you do if you did not attend college next year?
- What do you do when you're having trouble solving a problem?
- What qualities would you look for in friends?
- How do you think you can make an impact at college?
- What would you like your college experience to be like?
- How would you want to be remembered?
- How have you left your mark on your community?
- If you could meet anyone, dead or alive, who would it be?
- Do you have a personal hero? This can be anyone, not necessarily someone famous.
- What have been the biggest failures or frustrations in your life?
- What are your best friend's strengths and weaknesses? What would they say are yours?
- If you were to make a list of things that you would like to say that you have done (attempted or completed) before graduating from college, what would be on it?
- Tell me about a person or an event that has markedly changed you.
- What would you change about yourself?
- If we were privy to your peer evaluation right now, what would it say?
- If your application went before the admissions committee, what would you want to tell them to strengthen your case? What makes you unique?
- What is something that you can't stop talking about?
- Have you ever tried something and failed, but were glad you did it? Would you do it again? What did you learn from your experience?
- What are some of the major issues affecting your peer group and what are some possible solutions?
- What have you been waiting for me to ask?