Hints on interviewing for evaluation projects

April 1, 2008 at 8:07 pm Leave a comment

Evaluators often use interviews as a primary tool to collect information. Many guides and books exist on interviewing – but not so many for evaluation projects in particular. Here are some hints on interviewing based on my own experiences:

1. Be prepared: No matter how wide-ranging you would like an interview to be, you should as a minimum note down some subjects you would like to cover or particular questions to be answered. A little bit of structure will make the analysis easier.

2. Determine what is key for you to know: Before starting the interview, you might have a number of subjects to cover. It may be wise to determine what is key for you to know – what are the three to four things you would like to know from every person interviewed? Often you will get side-tracked during an interview and later on going through your notes you may discover that you forgot to ask about a key piece of information.

3. Explain the purpose: Before launching into questions, explain in broad terms the nature of the evaluation project and how the information from the discussion will be used.

4. Take notes as you discuss: Even if it is just the main points. Do not rely on your memory as after you have done several interviews you may mix up some of the responses. Once the interview has concluded try to write further on the main points raised. Of course, recording and then transcribing interviews is recommended but not always possible.

5. Take notes about other matters: It’s important also to note down not only what a person says but how they say it – you need to look out for body language, signs of frustration, enthusiasm, etc. Any points of this nature I would normally note down at the end of my interview notes. This is also important if someone else reads your notes in order for them to understand the context.

6. Don’t offer your own opinion or indicate a bias: Your main role is to gather information and you shouldn’t try to defend a project or enter into a debate with an interviewee. Remember, listening is key!

7. Have interviewees define terms: If someone says “I’n not happy with the situation”, you have understood that they are not happy but not much more. Have them define what they are not happy about. It’s the same if an interviewew says “we need more support”. Ask them to define what they mean by “support”.

8. Ask for clarification, details and examples: Such as “why is that so?”, “can you provide me with an example?”, “can you take me through the steps of that?” etc.

Hope these hints are of use..

Glenn

Entry filed under: Evaluation tools (surveys, interviews..), PR evaluation, Training evaluation.

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