The Covert Interview

Subject: The Covert Interview
From: Tom Williams <Tom_Williams -at- NOVELL -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 5 Jan 1995 09:36:08 -0700

Most technical writers have found that it can be difficult obtaining
information from some technical specialists. Occassionaly, however,
one can get around this by using a "covert" interview.

Rather than showing up in the specialist's office with a clip board and a
list of questions, one might strike up a casual conversation in the lunch
room or while waiting for a job to print. By expressing interest in or
admiration for the software (or whatever) or by asking a particularly
astute question, one can sometimes elicit an almost overwhelming flow
of information from engineers who, when they know they are being
"interviewed," are reticent or even rude.

I'm thinking or writing an article on "The Covert Interview." Have any of
you had experience with this kind of information gathering? I am most
interested in specific examples of success and the techniques you
used. If the article sees the light of day, I would be happy to credit you
or keep you anonymous, whichever as you prefer.

If you think your experience would be of general interest, reply on the
list; otherwise respond to me directly.

tom_williams -at- novell -dot- com


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