Interviewing Techniques and Practices

Interviewing is one of the most important and popular requirements elicitation and requirements discovering techniques. Therefore, before making any interview, we should prepare for it. The preparation of the interview is an important factor for increasing the chance of making a successful interview and successful business analysis.

We should have some skills like listening, communication, time management…etc. and learn how to manage these skills and use them effectively. The business analyst should master these skills to manage and rule the interviews. Now, let us discuss how to prepare for the interview.

How to prepare for the interview?

Prepare yourself

The analyst should learn about the domain, learn about domain language, what will be analyzed? What is the scope of work? What are the high-level requirements? What is the role of this organization? What is the organizational structure? What are the existing systems?…etc.

Also, you may need to consult your colleagues on materials you should read, people you need to choose and the questions you need to ask.

Choose the right people

Choose the right persons from the organization structure, whom you know that you will find the answers to your questions from them, or they may help you in the analysis sessions. You may need to ask an expert opinion about these choices.

Selecting the right stakeholders is very important as it may affect on choosing the interviewing technique in requirements elicitation, or replace it with another technique.

Choose the right place and time

As an analyst, you should recommend a meeting place regarding inside or outside their working place, also to take into consideration the environmental factors for this place which may affect the flow of information. Ex (Noisy environment – too much-decorated places – interruptions)

Also, you should schedule the interview date and duration and try to have a buffer for you so you can be able to summarize and validate the requirements at the end of the meeting.

The interview duration should not exceed one to two hour to not be useless and ask for another meeting if you did not finish on time, a long meeting will be boring for them.

Prepare the stakeholders

You need to inform the stakeholders about the interview schedule, place, and duration.

You can use many tools like MS Outlook to send a meeting request, which can help you invite the people and choose who is mandatory and who is optional. You have to send the interview agenda with highlighting the objectives to set the expectation for the meeting.

Ask about any prerequisites you may need to facilitate your interview and your analysis.

Prepare the right questions

By learning about the business domain, you will discover that there are some important questions you should ask about the domain, and this will help you focus during the interview.

During the interview, you should follow the different questioning techniques mentioned below. It is important to consider the environmental and physiological factors that may affect the listening level and audience concentrations and their willingness to speak on important subjects.

  • Open-Ended Questions: should be at the start of the interview, to just gain general information and understand more about the business context, for example, why this is a problem?
  • Ideas questions: it is used to ask for the opinion to solve or propose a solution and new ideas for a solution also brainstorming a solution, for example, how do you think this could work?
  • Time Machine: the time machine question should be for visioning illustration and direction, for example, Why is that important to you? or How this will be useful in 2020?
  • Indirect Questions: These questions are used to gain more information and illustration but indirect way, for example, Is that important because of …?
  • Validation Statements and Questions: this should be used in summarizing the information you gained and to ensure your understanding so you do not fall into misunderstanding listening trap, for example, From what I understood…etc.
  • Closed-ended Questions: to gain more details or when you need to have yes/no answers, you may use closed-ended question, for example, Do you need to access this from the Internet?
  • Example Questions: asking for examples is a very good way to illustrate workflows and understand the business needs at the customer end, for example, could you give an example of this purchase cycle?

Recording the interview

Recording the interview is a good way to keep information as much as you can so you can back any time to them to validate your understanding and write down all notes, as you will only concentrate on taking the high-level important notes during your interview, so surely you will forget something you heard.

While you should ask for permission for recording the meeting, and you should ensure that this recording will not be exposed to any another entity and it will be used only for this purpose.

Follow-up

Following up is very important to validate your knowledge about the problem domain and ensure your understanding. Moreover, to ensure that you recorded all the information, and you did not miss any information at the previous sessions. Additionally, you might not have finished all the questions in the first interview due to any reasons. So, you will need to schedule another follow-up meetings to continue and complete the analysis.

Furthermore, as an analyst, you may have one to one interview or a group interview. At the end of the sessions, so you may need to validate all the gathered requirements with decision makers and top management to validate them.

Cite this article as: Mohamed Sami, (February 24, 2012). "Interviewing Techniques and Practices," in Mohamed Sami - Personal blog. Retrieved November 19, 2018, from https://melsatar.blog/2012/02/24/best-practices-for-interviewing-techniques-and-questions/.
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