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            Conducting the Information Interview

Application 4: Structuring the Interview

an interviewee asking a poor question

Stage 4 in the information interview is structuring the interview.

In this Application, you'll (1) critique questions, and (2) identify types of questions.

Critiquing Questions

Identify problems (language; relevance; information level; complexity; and social, psychological and situational accessibility) with each of the questions below. Rephrase each question to make it appropriate and more effective. (Note: You may need to modify the focus and/or content of the questions in order to rephrase them.)

  1. Are you familiar with the President and Vice President?

  2. How many minutes a week do you spend surfing the web and responding to email?

  3. Do you consider yourself to be more talented than the other members of the orchestra?

  4. Why didn't you call 911 when you first smelled smoke in your office?

  5. Do you feel that public transportation is unreliable and a waste of our tax dollars like most of the citizens of this state?

Identifying Types of Questions

Classify each of the following questions in three ways: highly or moderately open/closed, primary/secondary, neutral/leading/loaded. Also, indicate if the question is bipolar, multiple, tag, or a particular kind of secondary question.

  1. What led you to your career in the theater?

  2. What do you mean when you say that you found Hong Kong "interesting"?

  3. Wouldn't you agree that you over-estimated your abilities in that situation?

  4. And then?

  5. Is there anything else you think we should talk about?

  6. Your company recently moved all its manufacturing operations from the United States to Mexico to take advantage of lower labor costs and less strict environmental laws. How do you respond to charges that these actions are unethical?

  7. Would you rather vacation in Rome, Montreal, or Rio de Janeiro?

Designing an effective Interview Guide is essential to conducting a productive interview. Phrase questions with your purpose, topic, and interviewee in mind. Pay careful attention to question wording so you avoid problems such as complexity, insensitivity, lack of clarity, and irrelevance. Use open-ended questions to encourage interviewees to talk and ask probing or secondary questions to provide greater depth in interviewees' responses.

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