Make “Internal interviews” be intentional and meaningful!

Hello everyone. Last time, I wrote about “stakeholder analysis” as one of the methods used in “internal research”.

This time, I would like to write about the “internal interview”, which is one of the major analysis methods in “Internal research”.

When you are assigned to a project or when you are trying to solve a problem, I think that there are many cases where interviews are set up to hear from experts in the company for the time being. I think those interviews themselves are very important, but how do you prepare for those interviews?

Don’t you go to those interviews without preparing the questions, saying, “We can understand if we talk”? Both the person being questioned (interviewee) and the person asking the question (interviewer) will spend a considerable amount of time, so if you are going to do them, you would like to make them a meaningful and meaningful interviews, right?

I think there are two main types of interviews. One is for clarifying and deep-diving internal issues, and I would like to call this a “structured interview”. The other one is a kind of “light interview with greetings”, as I wrote in the previous “stakeholder analysis“, and I would like to call this an “unstructured interview”.

1. What is “Structured interview”?

“Structured interviews” are for identifying and deep-diving internal issues, as described above. I think this is (should be) the main part of the interview survey.

In the “external research” so far, various surveys and analysis have been conducted, and the problems and scope to be addressed should have been narrowed down. So here, I would like to extract specific internal issues. In most cases, the discussion would be related to internal business, so I think it is better to ask questions along with the business process (I will write about business process analysis later in this blog).

Question list along with the business process (example)Question list along with the business process (example)
Fig1. Question list along with the business process (example)

Let me continue with the example of a coffee shop that appeared in my previous post about “CTQ“.

Since we already have “business process”, “process time”, and “issues (hypothesis)”, we will share them first. It is important to present “issues (hypothesis)”. If you suddenly ask an open question like “Are there any problems?”, then it would be difficult for interviewees to answer. So present hypothesis first and confirm “Is this hypothesis correct? (Question 1-1)“. If it is not correct, ask “What is correct? (Question 1-2)“. Also, ask “What issues do you have other than hypotheses? (Question 1-3)“. By presenting a hypothesis, we can show the “sense of level” we are looking for, so it should be easy for interviewees to answer.

Next, deep-dive by asking “why is such an issue occurring (Question 2)“? As for how deep to go, the “5 whys” would be helpful. It’s not necessarily “five times”, but it would be better to go deeper until you can feel that you’ve found the root cause that needs to be resolved (I would like to write about 5whys in my blog later).

Also, in this example, there are already “business process” and “process time”, so ask the people at ground level to check them since it is a good chance. And if there’s something wrong, correct them. Also, if there is no existing “business process” and “process time”, it is necessary to start the interview by confirming these (Question 0). In this case as well, rather than preparing nothing, we would like to proceed by preparing a “business process (hypothesis)” to some extent in advance and confirming it, right?

2. What is “Unstructured interview”?

Next is “unstructured interview”, such as “light interview with greetings”. While it is said to be “unstructured”, we should not do it with nothing prepared, but should prepare the agenda properly.

Agenda example:

1. Explain project overviw (10min)

2. Opinions and requests for the project (15min)

3. Others (if any) (5min)

In “Explain project overview”, share the research and analysis results, by mainly sharing “Project charter” posted previously. After that, ask the interviewee for “opinions and requests for the project”. Although we won’t show you a clear list of questions like in “structured interview,” I think it’s a good idea to have some list of questions in your mind.

Interview tree (example)
Fig2. Interview tree (example)

I call it “Interview tree”, but depending on the interviewee’s response to the question, we can easily ask the questions to follow. It’s common to say “Yes, that’s right, isn’t it~” on the spot and try hard to think about the next question, but by preparing an interview tree in advance, you can I think I can extract useful information during the limited time of the interview.

And the last item on the agenda, “Others (if any)”, is something you don’t want to waste as well, right? This “unstructured interview” can also be used for “stakeholder analysis” posted last time. For example, if there is a “resistant” force in the project, it is also effective to ask who should be involved to persuade that person. This should be just off the record (don’t write it in the minutes).

In my personal experience, when I was working on a problem-solving project before, I let the parties (department manager level) talk directly to each other on an issue. But I had a trouble as they had a big quarrel. Later, when I asked other people involved, it seems that the two were boss and subordinate in the past, and their relationship has not been good since then. If I had known that in advance, I would have been able to avoid it.. I think it’s important to have a grasp of the human relationship in the company like this.

3. Tasks to be done from preparation to post-interview

Lastly, let me summarize the tasks before and after interviews.

1. Preparation:

1-a Create list of questions

In case of “Structured interview” -> Ask for existing business process/process time (if exists). If none, prepare business process (hypothesis)

In case of “Unstructured interview” -> Prepare interview tree

1-b Send the list of questions to interviewees in advance

In case of “Structured interview” -> Send the list of questions as it is

In case of “Unstructured interview” -> Send the agenda (don’t send interview tree)

2. During interviews:

2-a Create minutes while conducting hearings

In case of “Structured interview” -> While projecting a list of questions (use projector for face-to-face interviews, and use a screen share for online interviews), enter the information on the spot and ask the interviewee to confirm it on the spot.

In case of “Unstructured interview” -> While displaying the agenda in email or word (document creation tools), input what you hear on the spot and check it with the interviewee on the spot (don’t write if you are told “this is off the record”)

2-b Finally, confirm the contents of the minutes and send them to Interviewee. This is speedy and good.

3. Post interview:

3-a Send thank you email -> Send at early timing (by next day in the morning at the latest). Interviews are to make friends as well. You would like the interviewees to feel comfortable, right?

3-b If there are any “TO DOs” during the interview, be sure to address them and inform the result

I think it’s roughly like this.

That’s all for this time, and I would like to continue from the next time onwards. Thank you for reading until the end.

Sponsored Link