Questions to ask

Ideas for Questions to Ask

Your best tool in judging is your ability to ask questions.  Be sensitive to what the student is likely to know and try to keep the conversation going for 10 minutes. You can begin by asking students to tell you about their project or ask specific questions from the start.

Here are some questions that students should be able to answer, including variations on:

  • What was your aim? What were you trying to do?
  • What was your hypothesis? What is a hypothesis?
  • What was your sample size, i.e. how many in each treatment?
  • Tell me about your variables –
    • What was the independent variable? (thing being changed)
    • What was the dependent variable? (thing being measured)
    • What were your controlled variables? (things kept the same)
  • What did you find out?
  • What was your conclusion? Was your hypothesis supported or not?
  • How did you come up with the idea for this project?
  • What did you learn from your reading about the subject?
  • How does your apparatus / equipment / instrument work?
  • How long did it take to do the experiments (grow the plants / collect each data point)?
  • Do you think there is an application in industry for your technique?
  • Would you like to continue this study?  What would you do next?
  • Did you enjoy doing this study?
  • Can you think of anything you would do differently if you did it again?
  • Do you have any questions for me?

Note:  These are only  suggestions to keep the dialogue going.  You may find other questions to be more useful in specific interviews.

One type of question to avoid is:
"Why didn't you do?" 
A solution or extension to the work presented may be  obvious to you but the student may not understand why you're asking such a question.

You can turn the question into a positive experience by phrasing the question so that the student thinks about the experiment in a different way e.g.
"Could you have done?", or "What do you think would have happened if you had done?"

Last reviewed: 28 March, 2013