The most important fact gathering question
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.
In fact gathering interviews, you should begin that interview with an open-ended question that invites a narrative from your subject. We simply say something like, “Can you tell me what happened on Saturday night?” The subject’s response will then provide an uninterrupted, untainted version of that story.
Once we’ve captured their version of the story, we’re able to begin to fragment the original story and expand on it one fragment at a time to fill in the blanks. This helps the interviewer capture more detail which helps to understand how accurate the information provided is. You can seek confirming information or challenge the information that came forward if necessary once you’ve filled in all the blanks.
One of the things that we are confused by from time to time when it comes to fact gathering is when we 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 we start filling in the blanks with the “Then what?” sorts of questions.
by Chris Norris, CFI