The following hints can prove useful:
The interviewer knows the problem, when the interviewee comes for the interview; he has his own expectations and objectives.
It is, therefore, important for the interviewer to be clear about what is to be accomplished. It will be desirable to write them down.
It is necessary to know the interviewee before he comes for the interview. This could be done from college records, test records, cumulative records, activity reports, from his friends and, if necessary, from his parents/guardians, etc.
This will help in two ways—in giving a good start to the interviewer and in establishing rapport and in solving the problem. Such data can furnish a framework within which the students’ problem can be advantageously surveyed.
When appointments are made, both the interviewer and the interviewee are prepared. It saves time.
Privacy is an essential condition of interviewing. It is necessary that the student is in a proper frame of mind induced by privacy and respect for the counselling officer’s competence. Interruptions during the course of the interview should not be there.
The interviewer must learn to step in the shoes of the interviewee. He must be able to see the interviewee’s point of view, how he looks at the problem, how he reacts to the interviewing.
The interviewer needs to be objective. He must be able to introspect, overcome or at least control his opinions, convictions, attitudes, preconceptions, prejudices, notions, etc.
2. The Process:
The interviewer should make all out efforts for establishing rapport—a relationship of confidence, trust and mutual appreciation which helps the counsellee to express himself without inhibitions and resistance.
Building of this relationship is helped by the atmosphere of the counselling officer’s room, his attitude and the initial reception he gives to the counsellee. The room should be attractive and pleasing.
The general atmosphere should convey an impression of friendliness and informality. By rising to meet the student as an expected guest, the interviewer may give an impression that he is welcome.
By giving him full attention and avoiding a preoccupied manner, he can give to the student the impression that the conference is the most important thing he could be doing at the moment.
The interviewer should begin with topics which are easy to talk about and thus warm up the interviewee.
After getting on to the main topic, the counselling officer should make the interviewee talk freely. It is essential that the interviewee feels free to express his own ideas unhampered by the ideals, values and preconceptions of the interviewer.
He should give advice only sparingly. Even when advice is sought, it would be better to avoid assuming responsibility for the decision which rightly should rest on the student himself.
Especially in cases of educational and vocational decisions, the interviewer and the interviewee may discuss and agree on aptitude tests or interest inventories.
The interviewer may also obtain information from college records or from an intake questionnaire which the interviewee has filled out at the time of application.
The success of an interview depends a good deal on the form of questions. Questions should be simple and easily understood, even if the reply they call for is difficult. Only one question should be asked at a time and the questions asked should carry the interview a stage further.
The interviewer should develop the skill of listening. The interviewer should not only listen but listen with the third ear. He must go behind the words of the interviewee to the hidden feelings, the half-expressed or unexpressed ideas and reactions.
He should also be able to see if the interviewee has used any of the dynamics of personality like repression, sublimation, projection, identification, rationalisation, suppression, etc.
Sometimes the interviewee does not want to reveal himself—he may say irrelevant things. At times, this maybe allowed—it may help the interviewee feel relieved of tensions and anxieties.
The interviewee should be brought back to the topic without allowing much time to be wasted. Attempt should be made to eliminate the unwanted responses and get only the ones which he seeks.
The interviewer should be alert to catch the change of expressions which may drop after the interview has ended.
When the tension has been released and he is off guard, he may say things which he may have wanted to say earlier but which seemed to him irrelevant or too trivial to mention. The interviewer must always remember that the interview has not yet closed even when he has asked all his questions.
What the interviewee says is often a mixture of facts, his view of the situation as he sees it, and his feelings. Unless the interviewer has information from other sources, he is often friable to distinguish between fact and fiction.
There is another difficulty arising out of the interviewer himself—his tendency to project his ideas and attitudes upon the interviewee.
Without interpretation the counsellee may remain on a superficial level of self-understanding. The interpretation to students of the varied aspects of their emotional life is essential and it requires great skill and understanding.
4. Developing Insights and putting them to Work:
The process of clarifying and gaining insight naturally leads to the making of decisions and the planning of courses of action. The successful interviewer is resourceful in making the counsellee reach his decisions and put them into practice.
Instead of having an abrupt break, the termination of the contact should be a stage in the process. It should be planned, not sudden, clear-cut, not indefinite.
There should be an efficient system of recording and maintaining the interview notes. If a complete record is desired, it may be necessary to keep a tape-recorder in the room. In cases, where good rapport has been established, the necessary notes can be taken without disturbing the subject.
In general, however, the interview will proceed better if no notes are taken. A summary must, however, be written immediately after the interview, to make sure nothing of importance is forgotten.
(i) The validity of data obtained from interviews is always suspected because the results are contained in judgments made by one person.
(ii) The validity and reliability of this technique varies with how well and skillfully the interview has been structured and who is conducting it.
(iii) Interviewer’s bias is another limitation of this technique. Researchers have pointed out the fact that the interviewers report a particular phenomenon according to their own interpretations, understandings, beliefs and attitudes.
The validity studies of interviews have revealed very low statistical measures of validity when interview predictions have been compared with the actual performance of the person.