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Subject:Re: The Covert Interview From:Scott Cluff <SCLUFF -at- VAX -dot- MICRON -dot- COM> Date:Fri, 6 Jan 1995 10:31:42 MDT
I don't have an experience to share about cover interviews, but I do have some
thoughts about them. For me, making good use of covert interviews is more a
philosophy than a method for getting needed information.
I once read a sign that read, "Luck is largely a matter of paying attention."
Similarly, I think that getting a good covert interview is largely a matter
of being ready to take advantage of opportunities when they come up. You
can't always expect to just bump in to someone, but you can be ready to make
the most of such encounters when they do come up.
I think that "being ready" is largely a matter of working hard to build
relationships of trust with those people you provide service for and need
information from. By "relationship of trust" I mean doing more than just
making small talk about the weather; I mean making genuine effort to work
well with people and I mean sincerely respecting those people in a way that
reciprocates respect for you. Relationships of trust are built through
constant awareness and genuine effort. True, the actual activities that build
these relationships might indeed be simple (such paying a compliment), but if
such activities are genuine, they can be very helpful.
There are tons of ways to build relationships of trust with coworkers. As
you do so, covert interviews, ironically, end up being more like genuine,
friendly exchanges of helpful information rather than covertly engineered
ploys to extract information. Understandably, you may need to conduct
in-depth interviews at times, but if you've put in the effort to build that
relationship of trust, the interview will go much smoother--ever if the person
you are interviewing isn't a good interviewee by nature.