In psychology, an interview is used to get various types of information in order to facilitate the process of clinical assessment. The process of planning an interview is an important approach which is based upon different factors including the purpose of the interview and which questions are appropriate to obtain the desired information. Planning is also important because it enables the interviewer to ask appropriate questions and also to keep the sensitive topics in mind including minorities, gender and other controversial topics.
Further, planning enables the interviewer to allocate proper time to different topics and also to target purpose of the interview. For example, job interviews are based upon some important and relevant skills and knowledge of the candidate.
Structures of an Interview
In this regard, the first step of planning an interview is the structure of interview. There are three main structures of an interview.
- Fully Structured Interview
- Semi Structured Interview
- Unstructured Interview
- Fully Structured Interview:
In a fully structured interview all questions of the interview are predefined and all questions are asked from the respondent regardless of their answers in previous questions.
- Semi-structured Interview:
In a semi-structured interview some questions are planned earlier while the other questions are based upon the responses of the planned questions.
- Unstructured Interview:
An unstructured interview is an exploratory interview in which only a few or no questions are properly structured.
There may be different sub-structures of the interview with the main purpose to obtain maximum information in a given time. It is also important for the interviewer to have some control over the interview. Interview structures and checklist enable the interviewer to answer various aspects to gain maximum information from the interview process. For example, the participant may lead the interview to another track, therefore it is important that the interviewer should know that the responses and questions of the interview lead to which way?
Have the participant intentionally or accidentally lead you towards any irrelevant topic? If yes, then how will you make the interview process on track again? Furthermore, how you worked on the interview? Have you given proper importance to each and every aspect of the interview or neglected some aspects by giving much importance to others? Have you clarified any term which may be confusing for the client?
Forming Relevant Questions for Interview:
It is important to for questions of interview which fulfill the objective of the interview. There are some important points in this process
- First you need to clear the goals of interview
- How and what information do you require?
- For what purpose you will use that information?
- Will the direction of interview be affected with the responses of the participant?
- Are you asking important information or some irrelevant information because of curiosity?
Benefits of Forming Relevant Questions:
- It enables the interviewer to design specific questions to obtain required information
- It serves as a guideline for the interviewer to remain on track
- If the interviewer decides to probe any response, the formulation of relevant questions enables him to think about the direction of response of the participant and also how to take him back to track.
- It also enables the interviewer to decide open or close ended questions regarding different information.
Questions of the Interview:
There are different types of questions the interviewer use to get information from the participant. These questions can be classified into three categories. First category is open-ended questions. These questions are asked to explore some specific information from the participant. These questions are very useful for various reasons, they provide information about the vocabulary or the participant and also provide detailed information about different events in a chronological order. While there is also a disadvantage of these questions because these respondent may lead the interviewer to some irrelevant information. Second type of the interview questions is the close-ended questions. These questions are also important because they provide specific information to the interviewer by saving the time of the interview process but they do not provide much detailed information as compared to the open-ended questions. Therefore, in most interviews a combination of both of these types of questions is used to obtain maximum information about the participant.
The third type of the interview questions is the probing questions. These questions are used for various reasons including the search for inconsistencies in the previous responses, to clarify the reasons of specific responses to the questions asked earlier, and also to help the participant to talk about some difficult topic.
Stages of an Interview:
The interview process consists of three stages. There is specific purpose of every stage which focuses on different skills of the participant. For instance, in the main body of the interview process active listening is very important while in the opening phase rapport building is essential.
Stage One: Opening of the Interview:
The first phase consists of these points
- Introduction of the Interviewer
- Define your role as an interviewer
- Methods used to collect information
- Inform about the duration of the interview
- Start with rapport building and easy questions then move towards difficult questions
Stage Two: Main Body of Interview:
The second stage consists of the following points
- It consists of main themes to explore the responses of the participant.
- Moving from general to more specific questions
- Starts with easy questions before exploring most difficult or sensitive information.
Stage Three: Ending Phase
- Gradually move towards the ending of the interview rather than an abrupt ending.
- If suitable, ask the participant if he has any question for you.
- Thank the participant for his interest.