Advance Updates

Avoid These Unfortunate Interviewing Techniques

Five Wrong Ways to Conduct Stakeholder InterviewsThis is the second in a series of blog articles about client and stakeholder interviewing to inform and build alignment around important projects and initiatives. This article addresses five wrong ways to conduct stakeholder interviews, common pitfalls that you should avoid when conducting interviews, and the next one addresses the five most important things you should do.

In our Advance Update article on Conducting Interviews, I introduced a new concept called creating shared space with those you interview. To quote a line from the article:

“The greater the shared space you have with another, the greater the opportunity to work in a way that accomplishes mutually beneficial work, and aspires to a higher purpose.”

Given the complex and personal nature of stakeholder and client interviewing, creating shared spaced during the interview process is essential if you want a good outcome. Conversely, eroding or blocking the creation of shared space with those you interview will most certainly lead to a poor outcome and missed opportunity. Let’s look at five wrong ways to conduct stakeholder interviews. In these ways people erode and block shared space (i.e., go wrong) when conducting interviews.

1) Make Them Guess Your Intent

Clients and stakeholders are typically busy managers who must be politically sensitive and careful about what they say. Unless you know the person you are interviewing, he won’t necessarily know or trust your intent. Until he does, he won’t really open up and talk about the “good stuff.” So don’t make him guess! Get that out on the table early and show him that you are looking for the best alignment of his interests, your intent, and the good of the organization overall.

2) Ask Questions With Little Relevance

If your interview is associated with a project to centralize a financial tool and process, and you are interviewing the head of HR, don’t ask a lot of questions about technology and detailed financial processes. Her head will spin and your credibility will sink. Stay in the domain of HR. Ask about the people, how the project will impact them, and how HR can help.

3) Talk Too Much

It can be fun, gratifying, and even cathartic to talk about ourselves, and it is easy enough to let that happen in an interview. Don’t go there. It uses up precious time and communicates to the person you are interviewing that you are more important than he is.

4) Approach the Interview as Just a Casual Conversation

A close relative of talking too much is to be too casual. You may have the same kind of dog as she does and share an interest in theater, but this is not a chat on the beach. Stay focused. Be professional. A little bit of this builds relationship; too much detracts from it.

5) Forget to Listen

You may find yourself thinking about the next question or a point you would like to make instead of listening to the person you are interviewing. This can cause a host of issues. For example, she has to repeat herself, she thinks you don’t care, she suspects you have a hidden agenda, etc. Practice listening, take notes, and prepare well so yofive wrong ways to conduct stakeholder interviewsu have enough brain cycles to listen while conducting interviews.

If you would like to add to this list of things to avoid when conducting interviews, react to mine, or share an insight, please respond to this article. This is a chance to help others by sharing your experience.

If you or your team would like help with interviewing skills training, check out our new one-day workshop, The Connected Interviewer™. Or, contact us for a no-obligation consultation.

Topics:Client InterviewingSoft Skills