Business interviewing includes quantitative and qualitative methods for conducting individual and group activities to collect information on a company strategy, policy, process, program, product, or service.
In common parlance, the word ‘interview’ refers to a one-on-one conversation between an interviewer and an interviewee. The term ‘interview ‘ is a Latin derivative, which means “see each other.“
Today, business interviewing is accomplished within-person (or group) sessions and online connections, with support of survey platforms, such as Survey Monkey. There are advantages and disadvantages for both interviewing types within structured, unstructured, and semi-structured methods. The organization’s business situation predictably dictates the nature and approach used to collect the required information.
Best practices, of leading Fortune 500 companies, reveals that successful interviewers possess characteristics that support:
- Open-mindedness and refraining from exhibiting bias and differences when viewpoints, expressed by interviewees, challenge their ideas and thinking.
- Ensure a positive, comfortable, and stress-free environment without unwarranted pressure or burden for the interviewees.
It is essential to appreciate that the prime interviewing goal is to obtain a set of specific findings and supporting facts. The information collected, in the interview process, is typically combined and evaluated with other organizational information, market research, and stakeholder participation to formulate conclusions, develop recommendations, and quantify benefits, to mitigate problems and risks and leverage and exploit opportunities.
Business Psychology & Interviewing
Business psychology is the practice of applying psychological principles and practices to the work setting. The goal is to identify and solve problems, increase employee satisfaction, and improve workplace dynamics within a psychology mindset. Business psychology has proven successfully, in recent years, in guiding and enhancing the usefulness of business interviewing activities.
It is vital for interviewers to understand and apply business psychology practices to support positive interviewing activities, including:
- Interview set-up and preparation.
- Support interviewee personality, values, motivating factors, and personal agendas.
- Appropriate questioning format and questions.
- Build and maintain interviewee rapport and empathy.
The three widely used interviews types i
Structured interviews are an array of pre-formatted standardized ‘closed’ questions that interviewees are required to respond in a set order. Data analysis of structured interviews generally tends to be more straightforward as this approach can easily compare and contrast different responses provided to the same questions.
Structured interviews can obtain large samples resulting in the findings being representative and having the ability to be generalized to a large population.
The key plus values of structured interviewing include:
- Uncomplicated set-up.
- Straightforward to quantify.
- Highly reliability.
- Easy to replicate.
The key minus values of structured interviewing include:
- Inflexible and lacking in impromptu.
- Responses are quantitative: cannot obtain qualitative responses.
Unstructured interviews are typically the least dependable information collection because of the ‘open’ questions and sequence a formal structure lack before informal interview sessions. This interview method is commonly associated with a high level of bias and predisposition, and the assessment of replies from different participants tend to be problematic, given the differences in question formulation.
Unstructured interviewing are discovery interviews and guided conservation rather than a formal structured interview.
The key plus values of unstructured interviewing include:
- Flexible as questions can be adapted and changed depending on the respondents’ answers.
- May deviate from the planned interview schedule.
- Obtain qualitative data with the use of open questions.
- Increased validity as it allows the interviewer to probe for a deeper understanding and clarification of specific topics.
The key minus values of unstructured interviewing include:
- Unproductive versus collecting data via questionnaires.
- Highly skilled interviewer.
Semi-structured interviews encompass elements of structured and unstructured interview methods. In semi-structured interviews, the interviewer prepares a set of the same questions to be answered by all participants. Concurrently, additional follow-up inquiries may be required to clarify and further expand specific areas of the interview conversation.
Quantitative and Qualitative Data Differences
Quantitative data is represented as a number and can be quantified and measured by numerical variables. It is readily amenable to statistical manipulation and rendered with a wide array of mathematical types of graphs and answers questions such as “how many, “how much” and “how often.”
The types of quantitative data include:
Discrete Data: is a count that involves integers with only a limited number of values that are unable to be subdivided into parts.
Continuous Data: is data that divided into additional levels. It can be measured on a scale or continuum and have almost any numeric value.
Qualitative data consist of content, images, observations, and symbols, not numbers. It is not expressed in numeric form and is unable to be measured. It is also described as categorical data that can be sorted by category, not by number.
Potential Interviewing Activities Failure Points
Interviewing activities have a risk of failure with the below conditions:
- Absence of executive sponsor.
- Lack of strategic linkage.
- Inadequate resources.
- Past and present success.
- Past and present failures.
- Short-Term business focus.
- Piece-meal approach.
- Externally driven Initiatives.
- Inadequate commitment.
- Activity versus result focus.
- Insufficient Training.
- Lack of positive reinforcement.
A list of hints that have proven to be positive contributors to business interviewing follows:
- Rehearse the interview approach, method, and questions.
- Know the types and roles of people to be interviewed.
- The interview should appear like a conversation, not an interrogation.
- Be confident and smile.
- Avoid technical and legal jargon.
- Be respectful and maintain an equal amount of eye contact.
- Obtain interviewee acceptance with a positive interviewer’s demeanor, confidence, and empathy.
Business Report Preparation
Upon completion of the planned interviewing of targeted individuals, along with gathering required internal and external documents, reports and analyses, the executive sponsor and owner(s) and manager(s) responsible for the organizational units under review, are ready to prepare the supporting report.
The critical components of a business report encompass:
The Findings Sections consist of the vital information revealed in the analysis, but only the factual matter, not their implication or meaning. This Section is purely descriptive and easily understood by all members of the report’s targeted audience.
The Section ends with an analytical statement which will lead to the Conclusions Section
Conclusions are logical deductions based on the data in the Findings Section and generally includes a comprehensive summary of the Findings. The Section ends with a rational statement which will lead to the Recommendations Section
Recommended Actions Section
Recommended Actions, represent clear, logical, and understandable outcomes of the Conclusions and need to be:
- Relevant: meet organizational approach and scope requirements.
- Feasible: practical and workable.
“While it’s important to assign accountability for getting things done to an individual, the biggest challenge is to foster an “all-in” culture that encourages everyone to pull together.”
McKinsey Quarterly, June 2019
The Way Forward
Businesses are usually very good at identifying problems, risks, or opportunities within their companies. What they find hard is to analyze and understand the situation and determine the real root causes. In most cases, this is because the employees and the stakeholders are too intimate and involved with the underlining policy, process, and procedures; this makes it more of a challenge to take a step back and analyze the situations without bias.
Knowledge Compass helps the business with professional consultants with no emotional attachment and the skills and experience to successfully set-up and conduct a successful project, customized to client requirements and expectations.
Knowledge Compass provides consulting services with the use of an array of Frameworks, Analyses Tools, and Interactions from their Best Practices Consultant Toolbox.