Best Practices for interviewing techniques and questions

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


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 for 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 interviewing as 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 in consideration the environmental factors for this place which may effect on 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, 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 different level of questioning and consider the environmental and physiological factors may effect on listening level and audience concentrations and their willing to speak in important subjects

Open – Ended Questions: should be at 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 insure 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 on 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 in 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 insure that this tape will not be exposed to any another entity and it will 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 insure 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 end to validate all gathered requirements with decision makers and top management, and this should be on follow up interviews.



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