In this project management tutorial Angela shares the importance and steps to defining the interview's purpose. She explains how defining the purpose keeps us on track and organized while being flexible to build relationships and learn about the solution domain.
- Isn't it funny how we need to get approval to expense a few hundred dollar item like software or training but we can schedule meetings with others and waste their time without any approval? And anyone can schedule time with us too and waste our time. The cost of a single meeting with just a few people is in the hundreds if not thousands of dollars. When you schedule meetings to interview someone or a group, you need to ensure you're using the organization's resources effectively and plan for that meeting. A great step in doing this is to be intentional and define the purpose and objective of your interview.
You do this by asking the question, "Why do I need to meet with this person?" And take this even further and ask yourself, "How will this person benefit from meeting with me?" Without answers to these questions, you risk wasting the organization's money and resources. I want to take a look at a few common interview purposes and objectives. As I list these, think about if you have used these before or could use these in your work. If you have some that have not been used or exercise in a while, think about adding them to your work soon.
It's okay to have more than one of these as a purpose for the same interview. One purpose may be to begin building a relationship with a stakeholder, especially those you don't know or haven't connected with in a while. Another may be to get an idea for the various solution options and alternatives that should be considered. Even if a potential solution has already been discussed, it's always okay to discuss additional options and alternatives. This gives us critical context to ensure we fully understand the problem.
Meeting with the sponsor is a key person to interview. When meeting with a sponsor, you may want to understand how the project fits into her strategic plan. You also want to understand the goals, objectives, and vision they have for the project and solution. In essence, it's asking them, "Why are you spending your budget dollars on this effort? "And what do you hope to gain?" When meeting with leaders and managers of teams impacted, you'll want to understand their pain points, ideas, and perspective on how things can be improved.
And when meeting with user representatives, it's important to understand their pain as well. Their ideas and perspectives on what can be improved is also important. With users, it's also helpful to understand the details of how they perform their work. Typically, this detailed dialogue on how they perform their work is a separate interview than the other purposes. Now that you have a solid purpose and objective for your interview, it may help to develop an interview plan. Let's look at what a sample interview plan may look like.
In this example, the sample interview plan lays out the basic information about the logistics as well as the purpose of the interview. I know my days get busy. It's easy to lose sight of why I scheduled something two weeks ago. This can be something you even add to the meeting invite. And here's another example. In this example, my date and place are to be determined yet. I'm just working on planning the interview at this point, so I list the project name, who I'm interviewing with, perhaps what their role is, and then the purpose of the interview.
And this really just helps me stay organized, keep focused on what the interview is about and who I'm interviewing. I also want to leave space for my key questions, which I'll be determining a little bit later. Once you have an interview plan started with the stakeholder and objective, there is one more check to perform. Check to ensure that the interview objective is aligned with the project and solution objective. In this case, we can look back to the project charter, notes in previous meetings or correspondents from project manager or sponsor and make sure our goals and objectives are aligned.
Sometimes your initial interview is just to discover what the project and solution objective are. Defining the purpose and objective of an interview is a crucial step to ensuring you don't waste anyone's time. If you do this consistently, you'll be known as someone who respects others' time, and your colleagues will gladly accept your interview requests.
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- Choosing to use interviews
- Selecting the right person to interview
- Planning interview questions
- Building rapport in an interview
- Choosing probing questions
- Listening and taking notes
- Analyzing and reviewing notes before following up