5 tips for better interview results


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Regina Wassink & Claudia Beemster
Posted by Regina Wassink & Claudia Beemster on Oct 30, 2012

Decision Model Management, Business Model Management, Enterprise Architecture, Lean Management, Business Process Management, Infrastructure Architecture Management, Governance, Risk & Compliance

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Do you recognize the feeling that you did not fully receive or obtain the complete set of information in the meeting you just left? Then you know that asking the right questions is not always sufficient in order to get the desired answers. But what more can you do? And how do you know whether you have collected the most relevant input?

Where we use the term ‘interview’, we actually refer to a broad spectrum of meetings and conversations. As we see it, a lot of the business meetings, workshops and conversations we are in, involve the gathering, interpreting and exchange of information. All these conversations have an ‘interview component’ in it. 

Identified challenges
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Commonly experienced challenges in conversations identified by participants in our training ‘Interviewing techniques and communication skills’, are:  

  • Only limited time is available to collect input
  • Stakeholders indicate they have already provided this information before
  • Decision making is needed quickly
  • Stakeholders seem unwilling to share the information


5 Tips

To help you prevent or overcome these situations we would like to share 5 tips from the practice of interviewing techniques. 

  1. Explain the objective and context of the interview upfront 

Instead of starting to fire questions at your ‘interviewee’, it is more effective to introduce the reason of your questions. By sharing the objective and the context in which the information is needed, you help the interviewee with two main things:

1) Understanding the reason why you ask these questions and being committed to provide you with the relevant information.

2) Decide what information and level of detail you need in order to realize this objective

This person might even be more willing to share information when you explicitly tell him why you have decided to ask these questions to him. 

  1. Determine whether open or closed questions fit best

Depending on the type of information you are looking for, you can decide what type of questions you want to ask. 

You could ask open questions. Open questions allow the interviewee to give his own interpretation and focus. This is the best option if the outcome is open and you are looking for new information or opinions.

You could also ask closed questions. Closed questions can be answered with one single word or a short sentence (often yes or no). Main benefit of the closed questions is that you can collect a lot of information, are easy and quick to answer.

  1. Summarize the input during the interview

The art of interviewing is to let the interviewee speak as much as possible. Summarizing the information given in your own words is a smart way to:

  • Show the interviewee what you have understood
  • Invite the interviewee to refine, complement or confirm the answer 
  1. Manage the conversation process

As an interviewer you should be in the lead of the conversation. An interview can be divided in three stages: The opening, body and closing. Each of them with its specific objective and characteristics.

The opening is the part is where you introduce and set the basis for the interview. Again you state the objective of the interview and are able to share the structure of the interview. In this part an informal conversation with the interviewee will help to create a good atmosphere for the conversation.  Also be clear on how the information will be used.

The body is the part where the actual interview takes place.

In the closing part you reflect on the objective as set in the opening part, thank the interviewee for the input and time and make agreements on the follow-up. You should explicitly confirm what you will do with the gathered information. Will you share the interview minutes?

  1. Provide feedback to the interviewee

During the interview you might experience some hesitation from the interviewee or feel the answers do not fully meet your expectations.

In this case you can consider expressing this concern with the interviewee. This will give him the opening to clarify if and what possible reason there is for not sharing all information with you (at this moment).

Being time pressured will ask even more of your interviewing skills. In general the above 5 tips will still apply,  but do need to be applied in a short time frame. These situations might ask for improvisation and prioritizing during the interview. In this case it might be very useful to get back to the interviewee after the meeting has taken place to mutually reflect on the process and outcome. This might result in new or not previously discussed information. But even more important, it will strengthen your relationship with the interviewee. And this in turn will stimulate a constructive participation in future situations. 

In order to master these interviewing techniques practice is needed. In our training we focus on these techniques and how you can apply these aspects in your daily work. 

Summary

Summarized, as an Architect, Process Manager or Business Analyst, it is extremely5_tips_for_better_interview_results_-_img_3 important to understand the situation, gather information, and get commitment from your stakeholders in order for them to share the relevant information with you.  The training Interviewing techniques and communication skills will make the difference in how you act in an conversation. And the information gathered might be crucial for your analysis and the support you receive for your proposal!

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