Following are a few thoughts on how to conduct
interviews, as part of a systems analysis engagement.
What's it all about ?
The aim of a series of interviews is to build
a model that represent the world you are working with.
Choose the right people
- Do not expect to get all the information
in 1 interview or from 1 person.
- It is very important to choose the right
people to interview.
- All the key people within the study boundary
should be included.
- While trying to keep the number of interviews
to a minimum
- Start at the top
- Gets support and co-operation from management,
by interviewing them
- Use a top down approach (start with management
then work down).
- High level then go into more detail.
- Get the big picture first.
- Develop the top-level model first then
look at system components
- Do not forget the end users of the system
- Verify the existing model
Establish a plan
- Learn as much as you can before hand from
- Determine what information you needs to gathered
to fill in the gaps in the model.
- Prepare your questions in advance
- Avoid asking the same questions repeatedly
- Do not plan to do too much
- Do not over plan
- Define your goals
- Address peoples with their full and correct
names and titles.
- Remember others may read your notes while
you write them, so be PC
Arranging the Interview
- Do not just turn up, it gives a negative
- Pick a location that is good for the person
to be interviewed
- Book a room, do not start the process with
a room hunt, it give a disorganised impression
- The more secure the person to be interviewed
feels the more likely they are to talk.
- There are on occasions good reasons to do
the reverse, i.e. make the person to be interviewed fell insecure.
- Ideally restrict an interview to no more
than 1 hour
- Have many short interviews rather that
1 long one.
- You are the advisor
- You are there to learn
- Ask for suggestions and follow them up
- Make your goals known
- Make what you want to learn known
- Explain the reasons behind the interview
- What the new will do
- What the old does
- The problems
- Establish confidence in your abilities
- Introduce yourself
- Why you are here
- What you expect to get out of the
- How long it will take
- What steps are to be followed (agenda)
- What you will produce
- Ensure them that you are here to help solve
- You are not here to find blame
- You do not want to take up too much of
- Describe how they can be solved in a
- Establish a good relationships with the interviewees
- Show interest in what is begin talked
- Be friendly and polite
- Respect their position
- Respect their needs
- Be courteous.
- If the interview team is more than 1 person
- assign role
- define functions
- Control the interview
- Be on time and do not overrun
- Avoid all remarks related to sex, religion,
politics and race
- You are here to listen so "SHUT UP"
- Ask direct questions
- Stick to the topic
- avoid stories, anecdotes
- avoid irrelevancies
- Do not
- try to catch the interviewee out
- Proceed in an organised manor
- Collect leads as to where to get more information
- If you plan to take notes or record ask permission
- Allow the interviewee time to answer your
- Occasionally summarise what you have learned
- Do not waist their time
- Do not become aggressive
- Avoid confrontation
- Concentrate on issues not personalities
- Do not apportion blame
- Do not give your opinions
- Try to get responses
- Avoid jargon
- Proceed gradually
- Be precise
- If attacked stay calm and factual.
- Let them talk
- keep eye contact, avoid stare
- "keep smiling and nodding"
- Be relaxed
- Be attentive
- Listen for negatives
- Try not to be negative, be positive
- YOU ARE THERE TO LEARN FROM THEM, NOT
THE OTHER WAY ROUND
- YOU MAY BE A TOP GURU IN YOUR FIELD AN
EARN 10 TIMES AS MUCH, HAVE A POSH SUIT DRIVE A FAST CAR AND THEY
MAY ONLY BE A TRAINEE SHEEP HERD; BUT CAN YOU HERD SHEEP !
- THE CUSTOMER IS ALWAYS RIGHT.
- THE CUSTOMER HAS THE RIGHT TO BE WRONG.
- Open question
- Closed question
- requires a fact
- if the interviewee is not responsive
- Mainly open
- Typical for first interview
- Mainly closed
The Interview Flow
- Before the interview brief the team
- Define goals
- Interviewees knows what is expected
- Define procedures
- permission for notes
- Summarise what you know
- Seek confirmation
- Arrange next interview
- After the interview debrief the team
After the Interview
- Convert notes to a proper record immediately
- If there are more than 1 interviewer
all must produce their own record
- For workshops the Interviewees should
be encouraged to produce their own record
- All individual record should be compiled
into 1 document.
- Update the model
- Verify the model from other interview