A twist to finding out more about someone

Knowing me, knowing you…

I think we would all be surprised if we counted the number of questions we ask in a single day regardless if it’s towards:

  • a client
  • in business
  • within a networking group
  • making an enquiry
  • colleague
  • family member.

The beauty of my niche business is the vast range of projects that I’m given that can make a difference to individuals and organisations. I’ve recently gained a new six-month contract to interview members of a network for their newsletter and website content: ‘Coach-in-the-spotlight.’

When invited to submit a pitch for the contract, it made me reflect on different questioning techniques I’ve used over time for different purposes. This post explores some of the common approaches which, if you read, will help you reflect on the methods you use.

Typical Question starters

We all know the five ‘w’ key question starters we automatically use in our daily lives without thinking: who, what, where, why, when…how, is another one used commonly.

Some questions we ask, depending upon how we ask them, are closed only requiring a short direct yes or no response.

For instance:

Is it raining currently outside?

Some questions have what I class as a second layer to them which require a person to respond in more depth.

For instance:

Which month of the year do you think has the most variation in the weather and why?

Bloom’s Taxonomy

Education professionals commonly refer to Bloom’s Taxonomy for developing questioning techniques (by Benjamin Bloom). This has six layers to it in a structure which increasingly requires the use of cognitive thinking skills.

It commences from a very simple recall of facts, through to  developing a deep understanding. There is a wealth of information on the internet regarding this if you are interested in finding out more.




Question Stems examples for each of the six areas


  • What happened after…?
  • Which is true or false…?
  • Can you tell why…?


  • What do you think could of happened next…?
  • Who was the key person…?
  • Can you distinguish between…?


  • Do you know another instance where…?
  • From the presentation given, can you develop a set of instructions about…?
  • What factors would you change if…?


  • What was the underlying theme of…?
  • What were some of the motives behind…?
  • Can you compare your…with that presented in…?


  • If you had access to all resources how would you deal with…?
  • How many ways can you formulate…?
  • Can you see and construct a possible solution to…?


  • How effective are…?
  • Is there an improved solution to…?
  • Can you defend your position about?


Typical Questions asked

Whilst conducting my initial research on the group I’m going to be interviewing, I found they already had short biographies about themselves on their website. This made me want to avoid and not repeat those first introductory questions that we often used when you meet someone. Typical ones I often get asked are:

  • What do you do?
  • How long have you done this for?
  • What other careers have you had previously?

A twist to finding out something more about someone

What follows are ten from a range of questions I’m going to be using to probe and find out what makes each one an interesting, knowledgeable and unique person / coach:

  1. If you could ask anyone a question in the world who would it be and what would you ask them and why?
  2. What book has influenced your work the most in your work and how did it influence and enhance your coaching philosophy?
  3. What tip would you give to someone new joining your profession?
  4. Where does the majority of your work take place? Your home / Their home / Coffee shop / Business premises / other – does it make a difference?
  5. Who inspires you the most and why?
  6. If you won a week’s holiday where would you go and why?
  7. What do you like to buy as a treat for yourself? How often do you do this?
  8. What’s your favourite comfort food and is it the same as when you were a child?
  9. What sort of marketing has generated the most new clients for you? Social media / referral / networking / literature / business expo’s / other
  10. Thinking of your favourite character in your favourite film, what type of personality traits do they have? How are they similar to you?

…what would your answers be to them and why?

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