Best Practices for interviewing techniques and questions

[i]Interviewing is one of the important discovering techniques for requirement elicitation from the customer. So before making any interview we should prepare for it. The preparation of the interview is an important factor will increase the chance of making a successful interview.

Also, we should have some skills like listening, communication, time management…etc. and learn how to manage these skills and use them.

So, we will assume that any analyst has these skills, so we will discuss directly how to prepare for the interview so we can raise its chance to become successful.

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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 questions you need to ask.

Choose the right people

Choose the right persons from the organization structure, you know that you will find the answers to your questions at their end, or they may help you in analysis sessions, you may need to ask another opinion for your choices.

Choosing the right stakeholders is very important as it may reflect and effect on choosing to interview as a technique in requirements elicitation, and 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 effect on 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 from the meeting.

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

[ii]Prepare good questions

By learning about the domain, you will learn a prerequisites questions you should ask about the domain, and this will help you to focus during the interview.

While during the interview you should follow the different level of questioning and consider the environmental and physiological factors may effect on listening level and audience concentrations and their willing 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 domain, for example, why this is a problem?
  • Ideas questions: it is used to ask about opinion to solve or propose a solution and new ideas for a solution and as 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 at 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 in misunderstanding listening trap, for example, From that I understood…etc.
  • Examples and 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 Internet? Also asking for examples is very good way to illustrate cycles and 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 anytime to the tape 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 tape, and you should ensure that this tape will not be exposed to any another entity and it will be used only for this purpose.

Follow-up the interview

Following up the interview is very important to validate your knowledge about the problem domain and ensure that you record all information, you missed or the customer missed to talk about at first sessions.

Also, you may not finish all questions on the interview agreed duration so you will need to meet again to validate and complete the analysis.

Also as an analyst, you may have one to one interview or group interview so you will need at the end to validate all gathered requirements with decision makers and top management, and this should be for the follow-up interviews.

References


[i] http://www.techrepublic.com/blog/tech-manager/mining-project-requirements-techniques-to-use-before-and-after-an-interview/450

[ii] http://www.techrepublic.com/blog/tech-manager/use-these-interviewing-techniques-to-gather-project-requirements/434

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Best Practices listening Skills for analysts

“We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak.” Epictetus quotes(Greek philosopher associated with the Stoics, AD 55-c.135)

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In human natural life, we are listening most of the time than we speak, while this is called discriminative and passive listening which you are listening to voices with different level of sound and including the body language, but we need to control how to listen and when to concentrate on listening by managing and understanding listening skill especially on a career like analyst.

How can I control Listening skills?

  • First, we should know what are the listening different levels and types? And how do we fit and allocate ourselves and our listening behavior on one of these levels and one of these types?
  • Second, evaluate my skills and learn how to reach the required level for analyst career.

What are the listening levels and types?

[i]Most of the Researches talked about listening levels are mixing between the levels and types, there are six common levels:

  1. Ignorance Listening:the person does not listen at all, and you can easily notice that he is not listening.
  2. Pretending Listening:the person is not concentrating on the information and what are you talking about, but he may convince you and pretend that he is listening so well.
  3. Selective Listening:the person is not concentrating on the overall subject, but he is interested in something or a specific topic on the subject so he will select the topics he likes when the speaker starts to speak about them, also he may be biased to a person and he will concentrate on this person only.
  4. Misunderstood listening:the person is listening, but he misunderstood the idea beyond the speech.
  5. Attentive Listening:The person is concentrating and he understands the information but he does not give a feedback about the information he heard.
  6. Active Listening: The person is concentrating and he understands the information and gives a feedback about the information he heard.

The analyst should know all these level and know what the level he should be and when he can also use another level in special cases.

So this was the listening levels, regarding the Listening types, there are many types, so I will discuss the important types the analyst should know to follow and use:

  1. Dialogic:from the type name, the listening is based on dialog, Q, and A, and this will be very effective in analyst career.
  2. Relationship listening: it is used more in relations between the speaker and listener, for example, Lovers; it is good to have this type of listening relation between the customer and analyst. This will give the analyst a chance to understand and learn more about the problem domain and can easily get the information anytime.

As an analyst, you should not use biased and evaluative listening, as these types may create for you a resistance at customer end and maybe create some enemies also.

Good Listener techniques

Becoming a good listener is not easy. You should understand well the objective of this skill from Analyst career perspective so you can know how to use it:

  1. Analyst listens to obtain and learn new information about the domain.
  2. Analyst listens to understand the information he heard to analyze it.
  3. Analyst listens to build a presentable, readable and understandable analysis document, and validate this analysis information.
  4. Analyst listens to understand well so he can transfer the problem to the technical team.

The Way to becoming a good Listener

  1. Be Attention:to pay attention while listening with looking to the speaker and writing done notes.
  2. Acknowledge the speaker that you are listening:smile while listening or with Nod Occasionally.
  3. Provide feedback and summarize:always try to reassess and recap what you listened and validate it.
  4. Do not interrupt:do not interrupt the speaker anytime and ask for permission, when you would like to speak.
  5. Respect: respected the speaker and treat him as he would want to be treated

It can be argued that gaining the listening skills will qualify the person to become a good analyst.


[i] http://www.businessballs.com/empathy.htm & http://ezinearticles.com/?The-Five-Levels-of-Listening&id=5115474