How to conduct consulting interviews

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  • 1. How to Conduct Effective Interviewsin Consulting Projects?
  • 2. OverviewPlanning and Positioning the InterviewConducting the InterviewSynthesizing the InterviewAppendix
  • 3. OverviewPlanning and Positioning the InterviewConducting the InterviewSynthesizing the InterviewAppendix
  • 4. OverviewThe guided interview is a flexible tool designedto help the interviewer gather information arounda set of questions. Guided Interview Characteristics  Two-way dialogue with high interaction  Requires probing for greater insight  Involves active listening  Generally focused on open-ended questions as discussion starters  Requires interpretation of verbal and non-verbal queues  May uncover related/ unexpected issues  Largely controlled by the interviewee - somewhat unpredictable/ risky© 2010-12 Lijin Nair - All rights reserved. Terms & Conditions. 4
  • 5. Overview We can tailor the general four step research process to help us create and execute the guided interview. General Research Planning Process Applied to Interviewing 1. Plan 2. Position 3. Conduct 4. Synthesize Answer:  Arrange  Introduce  Summarize  What?  Introduce  Guide Dialogue  Identify “so  Who? what?”  Set expectations  Probe/Follow up  How?  Organize  Conclude logistics  Confirm Develop Interview guide © 2010-12 Lijin Nair - All rights reserved. Terms & Conditions. 5
  • 6. OverviewPlanning and Positioning the InterviewConducting the InterviewSynthesizing the InterviewAppendix
  • 7. Planning and Positioning the Interview Begin your planning by asking three questions: what, who and how?Planning QuestionsWhat? What is our objective? What kind of information are we seeking? What is the best approach to obtain what we need?Who? Who has the information/ data? Who (and how many) will conduct /attend the interview?How? How will we conduct the interview? © 2010-12 Lijin Nair - All rights reserved. Terms & Conditions. 7
  • 8. Planning and Positioning the Interview Bear in mind that overall objectives of an interview change with the stage of the engagement. Interview Objectives (One View by Stage of Engagement)Early Middle Late Content  Content  Content  Get smart  Explore problem in detail  Test recommendations (Overview)  Conduct due diligence  Probe client’s other  Frame issues,  Collect data concerns hypotheses  Identify opportunities to  Brainstorm solutions  Understand dynamics serve client of organization  Test problem or solution  Process  Find key players  Process  Build commitment and  Build client trust  Identify external alliances interview candidates  Forge consensus Process  Dispel rumors & suspicions  Build client  Include key constituencies relationship in process © 2010-12 Lijin Nair - All rights reserved. Terms & Conditions. 8
  • 9. Planning and Positioning the Interview The issue analysis can help your planning by clarifying what you should ask, and of whom. Issue Analysis Worksheet Organizational Structure Issue Hypothesis Analysis Data Required Data SourceB. Can 1. Coverco 1. aaaaaaaa 1. aaaaaaaaa 1. aaaaaaaaa Coverco can 2. bbbbbbb 2. bbbbbbbb 2. bbbbbbbb improve reduce profitabili costs and 3. ccccccccc 3. ccccccc 3. cccccccccc ty by improve reducing profitabili claims ty by Manager Manager Manager payouts? reducing claims Product Operations IT payouts Development i) xx ii) yy iii) zzz © 2010-12 Lijin Nair - All rights reserved. Terms & Conditions. 9
  • 10. Planning and Positioning the InterviewCareful interview planning and an understandingof your interviewee improves your likelihood ofsuccess. Planning Stage: Key Success Factors  Leverage previous analysis to identify objectives  Determine best methods to obtain information: who and how  Define the “must knows” in case interview shortens unexpectedly  Provide templates if requesting data  Know the interviewee  who they are  where they are coming from  what they know and/or is familiar to them  Role play and modify© 2010-12 Lijin Nair - All rights reserved. Terms & Conditions. 10
  • 11. Planning and Positioning the InterviewThe first step in positioning an interview ismaking professional arrangements. Arrange and Confirm Interview Logistics  Arrange  Introduce  Set expectations  Organize and communicate logistics  Confirm and Reconfirm© 2010-12 Lijin Nair - All rights reserved. Terms & Conditions. 11
  • 12. Planning and Positioning the Interview Another important issue in positioning the interview is to offer value for the interviewee.Perceived Costs Versus... Perceived Benefits Lost time  Involvement in solution or Potential for negative process change  Access to information/ No perceived upside results  Potential future business Fear of reprisal  Charitable service Fear of “being found out”  Better service Fear of how information will be used  Free stuff (confidentiality) © 2010-12 Lijin Nair - All rights reserved. Terms & Conditions. 12
  • 13. Planning and Positioning the InterviewThe key to effective positioning is to convincethe right people to cooperate and facilitate theirparticipation. Positioning Stage: Key Success Factors  Manage expectations: Communicate the purpose and key topics of the interview  Provide incentives: for people to participate by defining value for the interviewee  Be organized: plan and communicate logistics well in advance  Help them help you: provide materials for preparation (if applicable)  Provide reminders: one or two days prior to the interview© 2010-12 Lijin Nair - All rights reserved. Terms & Conditions. 13
  • 14. Planning and Positioning the InterviewThe Interview Guide can serve as a useful tool inthe planning/positioning stages. Characteristics of Interview Guides  Topics and design of questions are outlined in advance  A comprehensive guide helps to:  Achieve objectives by structuring and systematizing data collection  Keep the tone conversational and situational  Anticipate and close logical gaps in data  However, the flexibility of the format also has some shortcomings:  Important and salient topics may be inadvertently omitted  Interviewer flexibility in sequencing and wording can result in substantially different responses, and reduce comparability© 2010-12 Lijin Nair - All rights reserved. Terms & Conditions. 14
  • 15. Planning and Positioning the InterviewUsing a template to develop the Interview Guidewill ensure key information is anticipated andtracked. Guidelines for Interview Guide Templates  Objectives or desired outcomes: e.g., quantitative versus qualitative, comparability across multiple interviews  Key data about the interview  Information on the interviewee  “Must know” information about the company or project  Key points for how to introduce/position interview, manage expectations and close interview  Structured and sequenced questions by logic/ order of importance  Documentation plan© 2010-12 Lijin Nair - All rights reserved. Terms & Conditions. 15
  • 16. Planning and Positioning the Interview In developing the Interview Guide, remember that open questions are the keys to initiate and sustain discussion. Topic Questions Open ClosedPurpose . . . Purpose . . . To encourage comprehensive  To elicit specific information (and explanation usually get a consistent or one-word reply) To initiate broad discussion  FrequencyHow . . .  List Use clear, direct phrasing that asks a  Yes or no single question  Rating Ask how, what, when How . . . Be careful about how you pose  Ask in order to understand potentially intimidating why questions  Be concise so that what you want to know is clear © 2010-12 Lijin Nair - All rights reserved. Terms & Conditions. 16
  • 17. OverviewPlanning and Positioning the InterviewConducting the InterviewSynthesizing the InterviewAppendix
  • 18. Conducting the InterviewConducting the interview is where the rubbermeets the road; it has four parts.1. Introduce  Establish rapport/trust  Explain your role, interviewee role2. Guide Dialogue  Reconfirm • Meeting purpose and context3. Probe/Follow Up • Agreement on time commitment  Establish “game rules”  Gauge interviewee’s style,4. Conclude expectations, concerns© 2010-12 Lijin Nair - All rights reserved. Terms & Conditions. 18
  • 19. Conducting the InterviewUsing the interview guide as your roadmap, youcan use several techniques that will help surfacethe desired information.1. Introduce  Actively Listen eg use eye contact, paraphrase to confirm or clarify etc  Use appropriate topic questions to2. Guide Dialogue introduce a subject  Ask responsive questions to clarify or3. Probe/Follow Up transition  Control the flow by remaining flexible4. Conclude and respectful  Retain Interviewer Objectivity!© 2010-12 Lijin Nair - All rights reserved. Terms & Conditions. 19
  • 20. Conducting the InterviewAsking penetrating follow-up questions is oftencritical to confirming or rejecting ahypothesis.1. Introduce  Deviate from interview guide if and when fruitful2. Guide Dialogue  Recognize “nuggets” of information and follow through if appropriate3. Probe/Follow Up  Don’t take everything at face value  Don’t be afraid to ask sensitive questions4. Conclude  Revisit earlier points if necessary© 2010-12 Lijin Nair - All rights reserved. Terms & Conditions. 20
  • 21. Conducting the InterviewEndings of interviews are valuable moments -rapport is high and they provide a chance for“parting shots.”  Gather documentation, collect1. Introduce additional information as appropriate  Ask an open topic question and2. Guide Dialogue listen for something revealing / “parting shot”3. Probe/Follow Up  Set the stage for potential future contact as necessary  Thank interviewee(s) for their time4. Conclude  Follow-up with written note when possible© 2010-12 Lijin Nair - All rights reserved. Terms & Conditions. 21
  • 22. Conducting the InterviewBuilding rapport with the interviewee andmaintaining an active role in interviewing canhelp ensure success at this stage. Conducting Stage: Key Success Factors  Use the Introduction to build rapport and reconfirm expectations  LISTEN ACTIVELY….don’t interrupt  Use topic questions to introduce a subject  Use responsive questions to clarify or make a transition  Paraphrase to confirm or clarify  Use follow-up questions to uncover unexpected insights  Be flexible and maintain objectivity  Use the last few minutes to bring closure to the interview© 2010-12 Lijin Nair - All rights reserved. Terms & Conditions. 22
  • 23. OverviewPlanning and Positioning the InterviewConducting the InterviewSynthesizing the InterviewAppendix
  • 24. Synthesizing the Interview No matter how good the interview, it is wasted without a good synthesis. Synthesis Stage: Key Success Factors During the Interview... After the Interview... Use an interview log or template to  Write up interview notes as soon as record data and results possible Capture verbatim responses  Use issue tree and interview guide  Mitigates loss of information as a starting point for analysis:  Reduces chance of personal  How does the data validate the bias issues?  Useful direct quotes are a big  Are there any new ideas? win in qualitative research  Keep deliverables/end products in Begin to group results into like mind issues/problems © 2010-12 Lijin Nair - All rights reserved. Terms & Conditions. 24
  • 25. OverviewPlanning and Positioning the InterviewConducting the InterviewSynthesizing the InterviewAppendix
  • 26. AppendixAdditional Sources: For further reading on interviewing you can refer to:  Basic Interviewing Skills by Raymond L. Gordon  Interviewing Strategy, Techniques & Tactics by Raymond L. Gordon  Effective Interviewing: A Handbook of Skills, Techniques and Applications by Robert Edenborough  Asking the Right Questions: A Guide to Critical Thinking by M. Neil Brown and Stuart M. Keeley  Creative Interviewing: The Writer’s Guide to Gathering Information by Asking Questions by Ken Metzler© 2010-12 Lijin Nair - All rights reserved. Terms & Conditions. 26
  • 27. Planning and Positioning the InterviewInterview Guide - Template (p. 1 of 4)Key Interview Data Name of Interviewee Name of Interviewee Company Company Title Title Phone Phone Date and Time of Interview Date and Time of Interview Location of Interview Location of Interview Name of Interviewer Name of InterviewerObjectives/Desired Outcomes (Think about quantitative vs. qualitative, comparability across multiple interviews, relationships versus information.) Objectives (relate this to Name of Interviewee the issue tree analysis)© 2010-12 Lijin Nair - All rights reserved. Terms & Conditions. 27
  • 28. Planning and Positioning the InterviewInterview Guide - Template (p. 2 of 4)“Must Know” Background (Identify current issues with the company, the project, the situation.) The Company Name of Interviewee The Project/Situation Name of IntervieweeBackground on the Interviewee Position/length of time Name of Interviewee in position Scope of Responsibility Name of Interviewee Role in Project Name of Interviewee Other (Perspective, Sensitivities, Biases, Name of Interviewee Language/Terminology issues)© 2010-12 Lijin Nair - All rights reserved. Terms & Conditions. 28
  • 29. Planning and Positioning the InterviewInterview Guide - Template (p. 3 of 4)Positioning the Interview (Based on your analysis, how will you position the interview with the interviewee? What value will this interview have for the interviewee?) Value for Interviewee? Name of Interviewee Key Points for Introduction Name of Interviewee Key Points for Closing Name of IntervieweeDocumentation Plan (Think about how you will capture and synthesize the data.) How will the data be used? Name of Interviewee How does this information relate to the issue tree Name of Interviewee analysis? What format will I use to Name of Interviewee capture the data?© 2010-12 Lijin Nair - All rights reserved. Terms & Conditions. 29
  • 30. Planning and Positioning the InterviewInterview Guide - Template (p. 4 of 4)Questions/Topics (Questions should be sequenced in order of importance. Flow should be general to specific, accepted before controversial, external before internal, and simple before complex.)To Be Covered Name of Interviewee© 2010-12 Lijin Nair - All rights reserved. Terms & Conditions. 30
  • 31. Conducting the Interview Responsive questions can be used to clarify a vague or general statement. Responsive QuestionsExample: Things Interviewees“Always” Say... Example Responsive Questions... “Costs are quite low . . .” “Which costs specifically, and low compared to what?” “Lots of good initiatives underway . . .” “Which ones have been most successful?” “What’s never worked . . .” “Can you tell me about it?” “Operations is always late . . .” “Can you explain how that is measured?” Listen for non-specific or Pursue issues to their resolution, but exaggerated phrases don’t overpower the interviewee © 2010-12 Lijin Nair - All rights reserved. Terms & Conditions. 31
  • 32. Conducting the Interview Several useful techniques and phrases help you keep the interview on track and productive. Additional Questioning TechniquesTo get more information Overcoming...Softened question: Tentativeness:“Tell me about. . .” “Would you say that the use of distributors hurts your ability to provide responsive delivery?”Echo: Other expressions: Perhaps it’s possible . . .“You say customer satisfaction is low.. . .” Minimizing: “Have our product delivery tactics put us at a costTo corroborate information disadvantage to some extent?”Positive approach: Other expressions: Fairly, Rather, Somewhat, A“That’s a very interesting observation. Can you Littlewalk me through the steps that led you to thatconclusion?” Face Saving: “Has there been any opportunity to reduce inventories?”To steer the interviewee back to the topic: Other expressions: What might have accounted“I can understand how frustrating it must have been for, How did you happen to, What other optionsfor you. Let’s go back to the second problem you were . . .mentioned . . .” Balance: “It’s clear you have been successful with that approach. Are there things you would do to make it improve further?” © 2010-12 Lijin Nair - All rights reserved. Terms & Conditions. 32