In this project management tutorial Angela shares tips on how to lay out expectations for the requirements elicitation with the person being interviewed, in order to set the stage and maximize participation and engagement.
- I'm sure you can relate to being on your way to a meeting with no idea what the meeting is about. When this happens, you may wonder why you got the meeting invite, or you might be thinking it could be a waste of your time. You're too busy with other things! It can be frustrating to be in this situation. When starting off an interview, once you build rapport, it's important to set expectations with the interviewee about what the meeting is about, and address any lingering concerns or questions that may prevent a successful dialogue.
Setting expectations early is critical in a productive dialogue. I like to start off my interviews sharing with the interviewee my goal and purpose of the interview, and then ask if they have any questions or concerns before jumping in. It is not always comfortable to do so, but it always amazes me when the interviewee has a question or concern and it's usually something interesting and typically changes how I interact moving forward for the rest of the interview. Some interviewees simply say something like, "No, let's dive right in." And some will have really big questions, things that I would have thought had been answered already through other project communications or the sponsor.
It's quite common to get questions like, "Why are we doing this project?" or, "Can you help me understand "why this project needs my input?" These types of questions signal that the stakeholder is not well informed of what the project is looking to achieve and how they fit into it. They likely then are also not prepared to begin working on requirements elicitation. When this happens, you may need to alter course on the fly and change up your questions.
Sometimes the interviewee has strong concerns about the proposed solution, and will voice strong opinions about it to you in the beginning. It is great to be able to address these concerns right away. Helping them realize their role is to create a shared understanding and the proposed solution may change. This is also an indicator that a strong relationship with this stakeholder is needed. Take a look at how I set expectations with John in the sample interview video.
Laying out expectations can be a critical step to building the relationship with the interviewee. Getting ahead of any obstacles, as well as ensuring the interviewee is in the right mindset to share will set the tone for a productive dialogue.
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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