Probing Interview Assignment

100 points

This assignment has three major purposes:

Your instructor has developed three 'scenarios’ consisting or two-to-three pages of facts and testimony from a variety of sources which will be used as the basis for your interview. Only your instructor will know all the information; interviewers for the day will know only information provided in the brief paragraphs listed below. At the beginning of the interview period, interviewers for a specific group will be asked to leave the room. One interviewer will enter at a time, conduct the interview and then stay in the classroom. The class will observe several approaches to getting the same information. Class members will be expected to provide feedback to all interviewers during each 'scenario'. After all the interviews are complete for the first scenario, interviewers for the second scenario will be asked to leave. The process will follow this format until all students have interviewed in one of the scenarios.

In class feedback will also be expected the day of the interviews. The scenarios will be recorded and reviews of your recorded interview will be due one week after the interview. Guidelines for the self-critique will be provided.

General instructions for the assignment:

1. Prepare a moderately-scheduled interview: major primary questions and possible secondary questions. You may bring your written questions with you to the interview, but remember you must be flexible and adaptive.

2. The interviews will be 5-6 minutes long. A student timer will be charged with keeping the interviews on track. After six minutes the interview will be stopped.

3. Openings and closings should be brief but adequate. Assume you have made an appointment, the interviewee is expecting you.

4. The goal is to obtain as much vital information about the case as possible in the limited time allowed. You must decide on priority areas and questions--ones you must get during the interview.

5. The interviewee will be honest but reticent. For example, the interviewee will answer yes-no questions with a yes or a no and will respond to open-ended questions with a sentence or two.

6. The interviewee is not involved in the cases in any manner. He or she is merely a source of facts and testimony. Approach the interviewer in term of what they know pertinent to your scenario. Don't pursue a line of questions about the interviewee's interest in the case.

7. Interview will be graded on effective use of opening, closing, structure, primary and probing questions, persistence of probing, listening and detection skills and abiliity to pursue and identify valuable infomation through skillful communication.

Case options:

1. Giudo Giordano has been accused of cheating at Anytown Community College. A hearing has been held but no decision has been made. You are a student interested in student rights and have located a person who attended the hearing and who knows the facts of the case and testimony given.

2. Marion Williams has had her teaching contract terminated in mid-year by the local Oak Park school board. You are a field representative for the State Teachers Association and have driven to Oak Park to interview a person who knows the facts and testimony available at the time.

3. Several years ago a natural disaster struck a Boy Scout camp near Elizabeth, Tennessee. Local residents have recently written to the Baker Commission urging that Rex Ingram be awarded its silver medal for his actions during the disaster. The Baker Commission has sent you to the town of Elizabeth to interview a person who has the facts and statements from residents.

Developed by David Bodary, Comments and Suggestions
Last modified: January 13, 2009