Probing Questions: Types & Examples

An error occurred trying to load this video.

Try refreshing the page, or contact customer support.

Coming up next: The Social Contract: Summary & Author

You're on a roll. Keep up the good work!

Take Quiz Watch Next Lesson
Your next lesson will play in 10 seconds
  • 0:00 What are Probing Questions?
  • 0:45 Probing VS Clarifying…
  • 2:25 Types of Probing Questions
  • 4:05 Lesson Summary
Save Save Save

Want to watch this again later?

Log in or sign up to add this lesson to a Custom Course.

Log in or Sign up

Speed Speed

Recommended Lessons and Courses for You

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Ann Casano

Ann has taught university level Film classes and has a Master's Degree in Cinema Studies.

Want someone to open up? In this lesson, we will learn about probing questions and how they are used to elicit answers that are based on critical thinking and/or personal feelings.

What Are Probing Questions?

Are you going to need more information? Are you looking to find a deeper meaning? Perhaps asking a probing question will help you get to the bottom of things. Probing questions are not just about clarifying specific details; instead, these questions dig much deeper than the surface. An effective probing question helps to get a person to talk about their personal opinions and feelings, and promotes critical thinking.

Probing questions are typically open-ended, meaning there is more than just one response. Most probing questions begin with 'what,' 'why' or 'how.' If you want the person you're asking to expand on their response, the use of the word 'exactly,' or the phrase 'can you explain further' should get you there.

Probing Questions vs Clarifying Questions

It can be argued that a clarifying question is a type of probing question because the goals of the two questions are the same - to get more information. However, a clarifying question is looking for more facts, and the answers are typically brief.

For example, let's say my friend Pam traveled to Spain over the holidays, and I wanted to find out a little more about her trip.

These are types of clarifying questions:

Q Where in Spain did you travel?

A Madrid.

Q Where did you stay in Madrid?

A Puerta del Sol.

Q How long did you stay?

A One week.

As you can see, I'm getting more information about Pam's trip, but the answers are factual, short and specific. Let's say I want to find out some interesting details about her trip. In that case, I would ask a probing question. Note how with this question, Pam's response requires her to give it some thought. The reply is not merely fact-based but instead opinion-oriented.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use

Become a member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create an account