An agenda or interview guide is helpful to order questions and track the interview progress. It can help interviewers establish a good relationship with interviewees. It is important that you make sure the person you are interviewing understands what you want to talk about.
As the interview begins, you should start out seriously, with the easy questions first. This way you look professional, and will set the other person at ease - make them look smart!
A non-judgmental atmosphere is what you want to develop when you gather data. When interviewing someone to gather information or data:
- Be on time for the interview. Nothing makes a bad impression like being late.
- Be clear about the nature of the relationship. The nature of the relationship is established quickly during introductions or shortly after the initial contact. Let an interviewee know :
- Who you are
- The topic under investigation
- The purpose of the interview (goals and objectives)
- Start out with easy questions you know the interviewee will have little or no trouble answering. Then gradually move on to harder or more sensitive questions.
- Use active listening skills (see the tutorial on Active Listening) when interviewing. Clarify ideas by paraphrasing them back to the interviewee. Feedback and paraphrasing offer an opportunity to clear up any misunderstandings.
- Take time to make sure you understand. This will make your interviewee less likely to be defensive.
- Provide reassurance that the information being given to you is useful and informative.
- Respond to the interviewee's work with integrity. Be honest in your responses.
- Offer your opinion only when asked.
- Be professional and positive in your demeanor. Don't joke or try to be funny unless you are sure your humor will be well received.