Effective interviewing is not something that you can learn from just reading about it. You must first do some interviewing, preferably a lot of it, because interviewing skills improve only with experience. To get an idea of what interviewing is like, try the following with your group. Organize yourselves into pairs. Write down a series of questions you can use to find out about a job your partner now has or once held. You decide what questions to use, but at a minimum, you must find out the following:
- the job’s title;
- the job’s responsibilities;
- who your partner reported to;
- who reported to your partner, if anyone did; and
- what information your partner used to do his or her job.
At the same time, your partner should be preparing questions to ask you about a job you had. Now conduct the interview. Take careful notes. Organize what you find into a clear form that another person could understand. Now repeat the process, but this time, your partner interviews you.
While the two of you have been interviewing each other, your two other members should have been doing the same thing. When all four of you are done, switch partners and repeat the entire process. When you are all done, each of you should have interviewed two people, and each of you should have been interviewed by two people. Now, you and the person who interviewed your original partner should compare your findings. Most likely, your findings will not be identical to what the other person found. If your findings differ, discover why.
- Did you use the same questions?
- Did the other person do a more thorough job of interviewing your first partner because it was the second time he or she had conducted an interview?
- Did you both ask follow-up questions?
- Did you both spend about the same amount of time on the interview?
- Prepare a report with this person about why your findings differed. Now find both of the people who interviewed you. Does one set of findings differ from the other? If so, try to figure out why.
- Did one of them (or both of them) misrepresent or misunderstand what you told them?
Each person should now write a report on their experience, using it to explain why interviews are sometimes inconsistent and inaccurate and why having two people interview someone on a topic is better than having just one person do the interview. Explain the implications of what you have learned for the requirements determination subphase of the systems development life cycle.