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INTERVIEWS

Getting the most from a fact gathering interview

What’s really important when it comes to fact gathering interviews is an understanding of question formulation. It’s necessary to understand when to ask an open-ended, expansion, closed-ended, enticement, assumptive, or even echo question.  Question formulation along with proper timing of the various types of questions will help you get information that would be relevant from your subject.

In fact gathering interviews, you should begin the interview with an open-ended question that invites a narrative from your subject. You simply say something like, “Can you tell me what happened Saturday night?”  Your subject’s response provides an uninterrupted, untainted version of that story. Once you’ve captured their version of the story, you are able to begin to fragment the original story and expand on it to fill in the blanks and understand how accurate and consistent the information is they’ve provided. You can continue to seek, confirming any expanded information or even challenge the information that came forward in a non-confrontational way.

One of the things that interviewers are confused by from time to time when it comes to fact gathering is when you just keep asking, “Then what?” “Then what?” “Then what?”  What’s very important from an interviewer’s perspective is to ask a good open-ended question to allow the subject’s version to come forward before you start filling in the blanks with the “Then what?” sorts of questions.

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