- Decide all the ground to cover
- Chunk ‘ground’ into topic areas
- Open up before you close down (eg don’t get into discussion of an idea or proposal before you have a feel for the person’s stake in it)
- Start with the topics easy to talk about
- Leave more difficult or sensitive topics till the end
- Arrange topics for a logical flow
- Try the structure out a few times before finalising it.
Some Typical Things to Watch for in Interviews
- Pay attention to the first thing the interviewee says – it is usually a major key to understanding
- Don’t let the interviewee ramble and wander off the topic – you should be able to interrupt to stay on track
- Many of us suffer from an unwillingness to say no – particularly to superiors. Watch for evidence and explore
- If there are long silences from the interviewee, it is legitimate to ask what is going on. Useful information usually results.
- Don’t rush to identify ‘problems’ too early – let the information wash over you for a while.
- Be aware of where the energy is for the interviewee – inflexion in voice etc. This is a key way of getting in touch with feelings.
- Be alert for problems that aren’t really Problems. Sometimes we do the right things, but are not terribly comfortable about it – this is life!
- Whenever possible get the interviewee to describe the problem before giving lots of background information.
- Be alert for interviewee images – e.g. ‘Up a hole’ ‘a real minefield’. Exploring these is often a productive way forward.
- Start with easiest, most easily addressed issues first. Build gradually on early successes.
- Generally advice is not helpful. Usually the interviewee has the best answers – your job is to help find them.
- Your first priority is to take care of yourself. It is the interviewee’s problem. If you are unwilling to help, don’t – for this will be communicated.
- Counseling is not always a process of helping interviewees to make big decisions. More usually it is helping them to make small choices or live with discomfort.
- Finally, there is always one key choice: Change the situation, or if not possible, help the interviewee to learn to live with it. Identifying which is true for the interviewee is crucial.
Matching and Mirroring
Improving Information Quality
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