Interview

Why use this technique?

An interview is one of the most popular investigation technique used by Business Analysts. It is a qualitative investigation technique where the interviewer formally or informally asks questions to a stakeholder to obtain answers that will be used to create formal requirements. One-on-one face-to-face interviews are most common. In a group interview (with more than one interviewee in attendance) the interviewer must be careful to elicit responses from all attendees.

When is an interview useful?

Interview is a good technique to investigate issues in-depth, to discover how people think and feel about certain topics and why they hold certain opinions and to discuss (politically) sensitive topics which stakeholders may feel uncomfortable discussing in a group.

How to use it?

Step 1: Select stakeholders to interview (check chapter on Stakeholder identification & Stakeholder analysis to get more insight what techniques could you help you at this step).

Step 2: Prepare for the interview, meaning:

  • Decide specifically whom to interview.
  • Define objectives of the interview.
  • Determine what information you need.
  • Set a time limit for the interview (often 60 min.).
  • Decide on (and sometimes write down) the interview questions and develop an interview guide.
  • Schedule the interview and inform your interviewees about the objectives of the interview. In some situations you may share with them the questions you prepared or areas of interest you would like to tackle during the interview to allow them to prepare.
  • Choose an appropriate location where you will not be disturbed and where you both feel comfortable.

Step 3: Conduct the interview

  • Allocate enough time and ensure that there are no interruptions.
  • Explain why you are conducting the interview – provide context and create a buy-in for your cause.
  • Know what you expect to get out of the interview but be flexible enough to follow interesting tangents.
  • Take notes.
  • Explain to the stakeholder what will happen with his input and write down any actions points you both discussed

Step 4: Follow-up

  • If action points were defined, make sure you close them as soon as possible in order to keep the stakeholder actively involved and get his support for the case.

Advantages and disadvantages

Advantages

  • Allows to establish rapport with the stakeholder.
  • Provide opportunity to explore topics in depth
  • Allows to experience the effective as well as cognitive aspects of responses
  • Allows to collect samples of documents
  • Allow interviewer to explain or help clarify questions, what increases the likelihood of useful responses

Disadvantages

  • An interviewer can be biased by the stakeholder
  • You get only one side of the story (the stakeholder you interview)
  • Interviews can be very time-consuming: setting up, interviewing, analysing, feedback, reporting and therefore costly

Interview types

  • Structured Interview: the interviewer has a predefined set of questions and is looking for answers.
  • Unstructured Interview: the interviewer and the stakeholder discuss topics of interest in an open-ended way.

Further reading

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