Coaching Questions: 12 Types Of Coaching Questions Every Coach Must Ask

Learn about the 12 types of coaching questions that every coach must ask their clients if they want their coaching program to be a success.

The journey to becoming a successful and reputable coach is not an easy one. 

A lot of hurdles are in the way and you need to know how to cross those hurdles.

A little secret that can help to make this journey easy for you is to engage your students.

The best way to engage your students is by asking them questions.

Some important types of questions that a coach must always ask their clients are the questions that build rapport are open-ended, circular, magical, drive focus, hypothetical, solution-focused, reflective, address habits, and paradoxical. 

In this article, we will be discussing the 12 types of coaching questions that every coach must ask their students.

Ready to know about them?

Let’s dive right in! 

1. Questions To Build Rapport

coaching questions

Rapport building practice is the most essential part of being a coach or in the business of coaching because without being sympathetic and in good relation with your client your business cannot flourish.

By flourish, we mean that if nobody will trust you enough to hire you and work with you then obviously it would be bad for your work.

Earning trust and friendly relationships with your client is a must-have.

It is best for building rapport with your client or coachee because a good one-to-one relationship starts only after a rapport between you two.

Following are the elements of a rapport:

  • Making your client feel at ease with you.
  • Making clients feel that they can share their coaching-related issues with you.
  • Building a one-to-one open & sympathetic relationship with them. 
  • Keeping your ways open for two-way-communication.
  • The conversation should be light in tone and motivational, so the coachee feels attracted to the coaching program.
  • Initial goal-achieving should be an easy one, so the coach builds an indirect behavior in the coachee, which includes a good level of self-confidence.

2. Open-Ended Questions

coaching questions

As we have mentioned before that the next most important key to effective coaching is ‘communication’.

We talked about the two-way communication that how much it is essential to have a rapport between the coach and the coachee.

Now what comes next under the term of communication is having open-ended questions.

It’s a simple fact that whenever you will ask someone a close-ended question, they will not be able to answer you in an expressive way.

Simple, asking someone a mere YES/NO question will not let them open up in front of you.

So, a coach should ask his client open-ended questions, in which the client can speak openly and subjectively.

So the client can express himself openly in front of his coach and stay involved in a deep, open conversation.

Such open-ended questions should involve sentences that start with:

  • What
  • Where
  • How
  • Who
  • When

Because such questions always include expressive subjective answers in them.

3. Circular Questions

coaching questions

The third step in coaching may involve a series of circular questions, you can also call these confrontational questions.

By calling these questions ‘confrontational’, this term tells their exact purpose vividly, because, with the help of these questions, a coach can retrieve some exact answers which can help to know the client and his issues deeply.

They are also used to help define the problem, understand the client’s interactional sequences, assist family members in comparing and contrasting each other’s behavior.

Coaches can also call ‘interventions’ on the basis of these questions.

There may be different kinds of questions, which can be asked, for instance, if they are family-related issues; a coach can ask like:

  • What do your siblings think when you do not meet them for a longer period of time?
  • What can be your partner’s reaction if you do no give them enough time?

And when the coach is working on the work-related problems of his client, he can ask questions like:

  • How does your co-worker feel in the situations you feel depressed?
  • What can be the results of your annual evaluation by yourself and by your boss?

4. Magical Questions

coaching questions

What if we say that there is someone that you can hire who can motivate you in a way resulting in seeing your future clearer and brighter, merely by showing you that you can make your present happy!

This is a way that is adopted by those coaches who prefer ‘magical questions’ or a miraculous approach in their coaching programme.

Magical questions help coaches to let their clients help them see their present and future as clearly as the blue sky.

They apply this approach in a way by talking to them using such words like they tell their clients to imagine that they have a problem that was bothering them for a while and it disturbed their work routine and personal life.

Then one day they wake up in the morning and see the bright pleasant sunny day outside. 

Then they realize that all of their problems are gone and they are satisfied and a happy person now. 

Only one good day of hard work with happy thoughts can start removing your problems just like that in a miraculous way.”

5. Questions To Drive Focus

coaching questions

There are many situations where a coach has to shift his client’s focus from negative thoughts to a positive perspective.

This approach is quite tricky because the coach has to shift the focus by not letting the client get depressed by his negative thoughts.

If there is a good rapport between them and he knows his coachee well, he can shift his focus instantly.

That is why building a good rapport between the client and his coach has been mentioned in the first and foremost point. 

Without building a well and good rapport there can be no connection between both.

If there is a rapport, there is a two-way effective communication that leads every other aspect of coaching and all the important elements which are being discussed in this article.

A coach can try and change the whole situation when his client is dealing with a difficult question because as we mentioned above his thoughts can move toward a negative perspective instantly. 

That is how focus questions help to move the conversation in a positive or constructive direction by helping the client to see what resources they do have.

Coach can ask him questions like “how did you overcome a similar situation in the past?” or “what resources did you draw upon?”

6. Scale Questions

coaching questions

Imagine a condition where the client can answer the question and give it a certain value without having to define and express what exactly that means for them.

This technique is called scale questions or scaling approach, where the coach creates the scales and places numbers on them.

Scales can adhere to such points, where 10 can represent the strongest point and 0 can represent the weakest point.

Scale questions in coaching are such a good tool to find out things that are either sometimes difficult to measure or to speak about by the clients which make this questioning approach kind of perfect among all other approaches.

Scale questions make it easier to talk about subjective perceptions such as what can be satisfaction, motivation, cognition, impressions, feelings, and progress for the client. 

This way they become measurable and comparable.

Especially, when there is a comparable result in front of the client, its impact can be effective.

When their effort hits the lowest point, they would know that they have to bring it to their top priorities and when their effort hits the highest point, they would feel more motivated and satisfied.

Feeling that motivation and satisfaction is the essential element in letting the clients see the scales.

7. Hypothetical Questions

coaching questions

Hypothetical questions are the ‘what if’ questions or we can also call them ‘what if’ situations.

These hypothetical questions are future-oriented and they show the future conditions they choose for themselves.

The main point of these types of questions is the better they imagine the condition the more they try to produce for them in the near or far future.

It is not more about finding the perfect solutions for their problems in fact, it becomes about evaluating the possible conditions for them in future, which obviously depend on the choices they make in their present.

Choices about having to choose the efforts to let go of unnecessary issues and choosing the efforts with happy thoughts for better productive results.

The good thing about this approach is that many times the clients find out very fast if this scenario or idea is feasible and worthwhile for them.

In difficult situations, the coach could ask that what would you need to do to make your situation even worse? and they will see how to make it better.

8. Solution-Focused Questions

coaching questions

Just like we discussed before, the coach trying to shift the client’s focus from a troubled present or past to a brighter future, somewhat likewise is the case with solution-focused question approach.

The main difference between both is that with that previous approach, the coach tries to shift the client’s whole attention towards the clearer and brighter scenarios that can happen in the nearer or far future but in this approach, the coach tries to turn the focus from coachiee’s weaknesses to his strengths.

From his weak points to his strengthening points.

Hence, the main focus is on the client’s competencies and not on inadequacies.

And in the situations which predict what “can” rather than what “can’t” be done. 

That is why the focus is on the solutions, not the problem.

The main reason behind this approach is that the solution-focused questions in coaching, therapy, or counseling give the coachee the possibility to steer the conversation in the positive direction, which he always urged for.

Coaches tend to help finding out which strategies and options have already been tried and which capabilities and chances are still undetected.

9. Clarification Questions

coaching questions

Its title also gives away its meaning and we can gather it easily that clarification questions might be used to get a clearer idea about a few things.

Clarification-question approach is taken by the coaches according to per client’s needs.

For instance, there are some of the clients who are in need of ideas and their problems with them.

Either they demand it in words or not, their behaviour towards their problems and goal-achieving tasks demand it, to restate the obvious.

And that obvious can be anything: their issues, their own words, their efforts, their behavior towards their wanted results and success.

Coaches should know when they need to pick this approach for their clients.

That is why, there are so many approaches and ways of questioning for the coaches to pick one or two for their clients, which suit them the most.

In this approach, coaches can ask questions like:

  • So did you mean exactly like this when you said…?
  • What can be the most intimidating point for you among all, which you mentioned to me?
  • Can you please tell me a bit more about what you told me earlier…?

10. Reflective Questions

coaching questions

Reflective questions are used for the reflection on specific points, from the various perspectives of the client.

The coach uses this approach when he wants the client to reflect on his own, on some points.

There are a few coaches who think that the best way to coach someone is to have them reflect on their practices, habits, or behavior and encourage them to see a different perspective to find their way forward towards success. 

Because the problem can be within their performance issue, there can be a clash of personalities in the team sometimes or even the need for them to develop in a specific area.

Reflective questions are designed to produce deeper self-awareness of client’s performance or behaviour as a means of analysis and improvement.

There are four important sides which are to be reflected, essentially, by the client and they are:

  • Identification of issues
  • Strength of brainstorming
  • Comparison between their past and present self
  • Analysis of their own self

11. Paradox Questions

coaching questions

This questioning style can feel a bit challenging to some clients because these kinds of questions have to be asked in a way which can still allow a comfortable space to exist between the coach and his coachee and keep the rapport to continue and stay intact. 

Due to such open questions some clients can explore the feelings of blame, shame or defensiveness.

Paradoxical questions are quite straight forward and bold because they can give rise to anger in some situations.

For instance, when the coach and the client are working on workplace-related issues, he can ask:

  • What needs to happen to make your boss or your colleagues angrier towards you?
  • What can be done to put you in a more bad position at work?

This approach can also be seen as the consequence-questioning approach because it explores the consequences of continuing to think in a particular way or enabling a client to imagine the possible way of staying stuck in their current cycle of thinking, their recurring beliefs, or actions. 

These questions can help when a client is locked in a downward spiral of their thoughts.

12. Questions To Address Habits And Structures

coaching questions

We all should know that one of the best ways to improve your client’s performance is to understand what habits your client has adopted during the procedure and whether the structures around his performance are helping or creating obstacles for their attempts to develop and succeed.

It is easy and clear as well to see that it is their habits that can hold them back from their positive development.

A good coach can always help his clients identify poor habits and also at the same time, support them towards replacing them with more reliable habits for their better present and future.

This is very important to realize and remember, whatever type of questions the coach chooses to ask, the most important ingredient in a great coaching session is for the coach to listen, listen and listen first.


We hope that we were helpful to you to understand all the coaching related questions and their styles.

Let us know in the comments!

Good luck! 

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