Before the interview
The Interview itself
Control the pace
Winding up
Interview reports
Common mistakes

An interview is a structured conversation with a purpose.  You may find yourself in a studio, a business environment, on street corners, or role-playing situations to develop your inter-personal skills. There may be a general purpose such as   information gathering or problem-solving. Most specialty interviews are for recruitment, counselling, disciplinary, grievance, or appraisals.

Before the interview:

Know the purpose and objectives of your interview. If you are the one who prepares the setting for the interview make sure that the venue and time is satisfactory. Ensure that you remove any physical or psychological barriers.  Ensure privacy. If you are visiting for an interview make sure you have communicated effectively with your client. Dress fittingly for the interview. Be comfortable.

Make sure you have prepared for the interview i.e. you clearly understand the purpose of the interview. That you have researched the background needed for the interview and you have an interview plan.

The interview itself:

Arrive on time!

Introduce yourself and your role properly. Shake hands! Smile and pass the time of day (depending on the time constraints).. Establish rapport through your warmth and naturalness. Agree about the "plan" for the interview. Confirm the time available. Establish any rules of "confidentiality", if these are clearly important. Ask to take notes, be aware that too much note taking will adversely affect your ability to maintain "contact" with your interviewee.

Move into the main part of the interview clearly and professionally.  Keep your objectives in mind and work your plan. Introduce early the central topic and use effective questioning techniques. 

That is:

1. Well-structured open-ended questions.
2.  Having opened up an area of questioning use shorter probe questions to penetrate the area. Stay with the topic until you have the information you want. Be sensitive, however, to your client's feelings.
3.  Avoid closed questions which prompt a Yes/No answer - or use them to good effect!
4.  Avoid leading questions i.e. questions which themselves allude to the answer expected.

Summarise periodically to confirm understanding and to keep to your plan.

Control the pace of the interview:

Listen, observe, use silences intelligently. Listen by active listening i.e. good body posture, eye contact and integration of answers and next questions.

Keep rapport going - smile, be yourself.

Be sensitive and flexible. If your original interview plan is clearly off track - then clarify the area for discussion. If you loose the thread - don't waffle, acknowledge it, move onto another topic and ask if you may return to the original line later.

Encourage the interviewee to talk by your open-ended questions and your eye contact, head nods, key word repetition, and paraphrasing.

Invite questions and answer them.


Finish on a high note. Summarise the progress made. Explain the next steps.

Close the interview nicely. Arrange the date of next meeting and/or lines of communication if you need to follow-up. Thank your client. Shake hands and depart.

Interview Reports:

Straight after the interview - write up your interview notes.  Don't wait.  Do not overwrite any of your notes and keep them filed for future verification.  Don't embellish.  This is very important, you have a responsibility to accurately reflect the interview.

Common faults with interview techniques:

not arriving on time because of poor planing
be careful of initial impressions - HALO or HORNS effect
talking too much yourself at the expense of the interviewee
unspecified confused objectives
bias and prejudice - the influence of your dislikes
unsystematic/poor planning e.g. having too many questions for the time available
failure to establish rapport
stereotyping - fixed mental impressions of subject.