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11.2.3 Interviewing techniques

  • always wear your ID to an interview.
  • introduce yourself and state clearly the purpose of the interview.
  • at all times remain polite and professional.
  • try to put the person at ease.
  • try not to interrupt while the person is answering your questions.
  • begin the interview in general terms where possible and introduce more specific questions at a later stage.
  • avoid using jargon and keep your language simple and to the point.
  • be diplomatic. Do not use accusatory tones or sentences. For instance it is better to say "The Department was not notified in time of.............." rather than "You failed to....."
  • keep control of the interview, even if it means taking a short break to enable the client (or you) to calm down (either from fear, tears or anger).
  • if a client is prone to going off the track, gently but firmly lead them back to the line you wish to pursue.
  • remember to ask specific questions in order to assist the person being interviewed. It should be noted that a client may not volunteer information.
  • be specific with your questions, and do not be afraid to reword them if the client is not providing the answers you require.
  • avoid two part questions, as an answer to one may be taken as answering both parts. Separate the question components and ask as two separate questions.
  • do not feel uncomfortable with pauses, it may be that the client requires time to settle or clarify their thoughts.
  • note everything that is said, as it may prove relevant in the long run, even if it seems inconsequential at first.
  • draft the statement covering all relevant points, and add whatever the interviewee wishes to have included, even if you cannot see the relevance of the statement.
  • if you are not sure of an answer to a question – seek advice and then get back to the client with your response.