How to Improve Your Interview Skills

interview2 It’s not the questions you ask that matters, it’s the way you ask them. Technical writers, business analysts, and developers all ask questions. They want answers. And some are better than others. Some ask many times to get the definitive answers. Others think they have the answer but, on closer inspection, have overlooked some vital point. So, how do you ask the right questions?

How to Run Structured Interviews & Improve Task Analysis

interviewWhen working on business transformation and outsourcing projects, I’d spend endless hours interviewing people.

The more I did it, the more mistakes I saw in my interviewing techniques.

I wasn’t getting the answers I wanted. I was losing time and getting bogged down with thorny SMEs. My manager suggested I look at Structured Interview techniques.

  • Structured Interviews are a quantitative research method commonly employed in survey research. It helps ensure that each interview is presented with exactly the same questions in the same order. We used it for Process Design work and developing Action Plans.
  • Answers can be reliably aggregated and comparisons made with confidence between sample subgroups or between different survey periods.
  • Structured interviews allow you to collect data for a statistical survey, for example, data can be collected by an interviewer rather than through a self-administered questionnaire.
  • Standardizes the order in which questions are asked of survey respondents, so the questions are always answered within the same context.
  • Minimizes the impact of context effects, where the answers given to a survey question can depend on the nature of preceding questions.
  • Used as a qualitative research methodology. These types of interviews suit focus group studies in which it helps to compare/contrast participant responses in order to answer a research question.
  • For structured qualitative interviews, interviewers develop an interview schedule which lists the wording and sequencing of questions.

Later, I organized workshops on Structured Interviews where we showed Business Analysts how to interview SMEs and glean the information they needed.

How To Ask Questions for Technical Documentation

Tom Johnson also discusses how to ask questions, for example, to define the topics for an application, ‘Regardless of how many topics you decide to include in your help, asking questions is a tool that can serve you well in all areas of life.’ http://www.idratherbewriting.com/2010/02/17/the-art-of-asking-questions/

How To Ask Questions

Some things to consider are:

  • When to ask Open v Closed questions, i.e. which is the most appropriate.
  • How to interview groups, i.e. how to ensure that quieter types get heard and not bullied/intimidated at workshops and
  • How to verify what the person said is what they actually meant to say..

The final one is much more difficult than you’d think.

How do you interview people?

What mistakes do technical writers make when interviewing? Do they ask too many questions? Or assume they have the information? How do you cope with difficult people at interviews?

Download these templates to start

Acceptance Test Plan

Contingency Plan

Software Development Templates

Acquisition Plan

Conversion Plan

Software Requirements Specification

Action Plan

Cost Benefit Analysis

Software Testing

API Documentation

Database Design

Standard Operating Procedures (SOP)

Audience Analysis

Datasheet

Statement of Work

Availability Plan

Deployment Plan

System Administration Guide

Bill of Materials

Design Document

System Boundary

Business Case

Disaster Recovery Plan

System Design Document

Business Continuity

Disposition Plan

System Specifications

Business Plan

Documentation Plan

Technical Writing Templates

Business Process

Employee Handbook

Test Plan

Business Requirements

Error Message Guide

Training Plan

Business Rules

Expression of Interest

Transition Plan

Capacity Plan

Fact Sheet

Troubleshooting Guide

Case Study

Feasibility Study

Use Case

Change Management Plan

Functional Requirements

User Guide

Communication Plan

Grant Proposal

Verification and Validation Plan

Concept of Operations

Implementation Plan

White Papers

Concept Proposal

Installation Plan

Work Instructions

Configuration Management Plan

Interface Control Document

Software Development Templates

Acceptance Test Plan

Maintenance Plan

Software Requirements Specification

Acquisition Plan

Market Research

Software Testing

Action Plan

Marketing Plan

Standard Operating Procedures (SOP)

API Documentation

Needs Statement

Statement of Work

Audience Analysis

Operations Guide

System Administration Guide

Availability Plan

Policy Manual

System Boundary

Bill of Materials

Project Plan

System Design Document

Business Case

Proposal Manager Templates

System Specifications

Business Continuity

Proposal Template

Technical Writing Templates

Business Plan

Quality Assurance Plan

Test Plan

Business Process

Release Notes

Training Plan

Business Requirements

Request for Proposal

Transition Plan

Business Rules

Risk Management Plan

Troubleshooting Guide

Capacity Plan

Scope of Work

Use Case

Case Study

Security Plan

User Guide

Change Management Plan

Service Level Agreement (SLA)

Verification and Validation Plan

Communication Plan

Setup Guide

White Papers

Concept of Operations

Social Media Policy

Work Instructions

Concept Proposal

Contingency Plan

 

Configuration Management Plan

Conversion Plan