Jimmy Fallon. James Corden. Trevor Noah. What do all of these people have in common? (Aside from being hilarious.) They’re all great at interviews! There’s so much more to being good at interviewing besides sitting next to someone and asking them a simple question, getting a simple answer in response and repeating it over and over. If that was the case then these hosts wouldn’t be half as popular as they are today. When it comes down to it there are Five Phases of an Interview that everyone should go through when it comes to collecting data. No promises you’ll be the next Jimmy Fallon at the end of it but you’ll definitely get some just as good results.
The first phase of a good interview is the introduction phase. Keep this phase between 5 to 10 minutes, as it’s really only for instructions. There’s not much question asking that actually happens at this stage. Its main purpose is to introduce yourself, the purpose of the interview, why the subject was chosen for the interview and what they subject can expect by the end of it. If the subject has any questions about the process now is the time to answer them. In addition to that if any non disclosures need to be signed and if you need permission to record the interview session now is the time to do so.
The second phase of the interview process is called the warm-up phase, which is relatively self explanatory. This part should last been 3 to 5 minuets and should feature easy questions. This is the time to ask simple and demographic defining questions that will help put your more in depth research into perspective later. Making the subject comfortable enough to answer each question truthfully is the main objective of this section. A question that might be featured in this phase include: Do you enjoy working here?
The third phase is called the Body. This is the longest phase of the interview process and can last anywhere between 30 to 45 minuets. These questions should be data driven and detail oriented, this is where you will receive your bulk of information. Questions should follow in a logical manner and not jump around out of order. A good tip for this section is to keep your subject engaged by asking different types of questions. Not every question has to be yes/ no/ maybe, try asking the subject to answer with an anecdote!
The fourth phase of interviewing is referred to as Cooling Off. This part of the process is similar to the first phase, warm up, and is intended to ease the subject out of the difficult questions to something more comfortable. This phase should last between 5 to 10 minuets and should summarize the interview. A good question to ask during this phase would be: “Is there anything else I should have asked you about?
Lastly the final phase comes in the form of the Wrap-Up. This phase should be 5 minuets long and is designed to thank the participant and show them the way out. Here is the place to ask the subject if they have any final questions for you. Newton Software states that,
“Closing out an interview is just as important as the other stages. Just as having a great first impression is important, leaving the candidate feeling good about the company and its culture is key.”
After the interview is over your work is not done! It’s important to keep in touch with your subject and let them know of any updates or changes in plan. Send them a thank you note to show your appreciation for spending their time with you.