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3 Examples of a Ladder Interview

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A ladder interview is an interviewing technique that uses follow up questions that dive to two or three levels of detail. This technique is associated with market research. However it can be used in other areas such as job interviews. Ladder interviews start with an open-ended question and ask two or three follow ups designed to go deeper. The following are illustrative examples.

Product Development

Marketer: Do you like this package?
Customer: No, not really
Marketer: Why?
Customer: It just looks like it's trying too hard.
Marketer: Why?
Customer: It's all gold and shiny. It's too flashy.


Marketer: How did that advertisement make you feel?
Customer: Thirsty
Marketer: Thirsty for our product?
Customer: Yeah sure, I guess
Marketer: You mean it made you generally thirsty?
Customer: Well, you just show the product for about half a second
Marketer: That was difficult to notice?
Customer: Yeah, I was thinking about beer when that guy looked so thirsty like that
Marketer: But you do like bottled water?
Customer: Sure, but that ad had me thinking beer

Job Interview

Manager: What is the difference between good code and bad code?
Candidate: Good code is scalable and efficient
Manager: What makes code scalable?
Candidate: You can deploy it on lots of machines
Manager: So what makes that possible?
Candidate: The cloud?
Manager: I mean, how do you write code that works well on the cloud?
Candidate: Not sure
Overview: Ladder Interview
Market Research
Starting with simple questions and then asking a series of follow up questions designed to achieve a highly detailed answer.
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