Re: Interviewing for info. gathering

Subject: Re: Interviewing for info. gathering
From: Len Olszewski <saslpo -at- UNX -dot- SAS -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 5 Apr 1994 13:37:48 -0400

LaVonna Funkhouser asks about interviewing techniques:


> This is a basic tool that we all
> use, but I was wondering if any of you have a particular
> process that you use when interviewing SMEs.


Aside from the processes and references posted so far, let me add a
couple of tips I picked up the old fashioned way.

Interrupt your SME:

- if you don't understand an intermediate point

- and ask him/her to pause to give yourself time to
write down what he/she just said

- speak as you write to keep your SME quiet while you
get down what the SME just said. Take your time, but
don't be excessively slow.

Before you proceed to the next topic or question, state your
understanding of what SME just discussed in your own words, just
to be sure, and ask "Is that right?". Do this as many times as
necessary, saying things like "I want to make sure this looks
right in the book".

Don't just ask if whether what you understand is correct, but

- ask if there's anything else that applies

- ask if there's anyone else you should speak with.

(SME's tend to forget about stuff like this unless you
explicitly ask - trust me on this.)

Be polite, be prompt, make sure you set up a way to contact the
SME to verify information or follow-up - including schedules for
when is the best time for contact.

Verify the spelling of the SME's name, if this is the first time
you've met. Thank the SME for agreeing to meet.

Do as much homework as you can first, and only ask the questions
that really have you stumped. Don't be apologetic, but be
considerate and grateful. *Speak the lingo*, even if you don't
intend to write in it.

Good luck.

|Len Olszewski, Technical Writer |"Gee, Mr. Peabody..." |
|saslpo -at- unx -dot- sas -dot- com|Cary, NC, USA| -Sherman |
| Opinions this ludicrous are mine. Reasonable opinions will cost you.|

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