July 10, 2014 | Mark Paradies

Root Cause Analysis Tip: 5 Ways to Improve Your Interviews

1) Pick a Good Setting

What is a good setting? Someplace quiet where the interviewee can think without being disturbed. No visual or audible distractions. A place where the interviewee is comfortable and not threatened.

What is a bad setting? The plant manager’s office (threatening). The cafeteria at lunch (distracting). Out in the plant with work going on (distracting).

2) Be Prepared

Perform the interviews in the order to collect the facts first and then look into more complex issues (management system and generic causes). Data collection interviews come before management interviews.

Before any interview, make a list of the topics you hope to cover.

And, of course, be prepared to draw a SnapCharT® during the interview.

3) Don’t Ask Questions

People get the idea that interviews are all about asking questions. Actually, interviews should be about collecting information by getting the interviewee to tell you what they know: Explore his or her recollections (memory).

Often, asking questions hurts this process by interrupting the interviewee’s train of thought. Instead of asking questions, try the cognitive interviewing process taught in the 5-Day TapRooT® Advanced Root Cause Analysis Team Leader Course. We teach people how to combine cognitive interviewing techniques that help people remember what happened with the TapRooT® SnapCharT® technique.

4) Review What Was Collected

When the interview is nearly complete, review what you have learned with the interviewee.

An easy way to do this is to build an informal, draft SnapCharT® during the interview and then review it step by step with the interviewee once the interview is complete.

If you tell the interviewee that you will review what you learned from them at the end of the interview, this often helps the interviewee feel at ease. They can correct any mistakes they make later. Also, they can correct any misconceptions you might have had and fill in additional information that you didn’t pick up which they thought they told you about.

5) Remember to Say Thanks

At the end of an interview, it’s always good to thank the interviewees for their hard work.

But the “thank you” can serve an additional purpose. You can provide the interviewee with your business card and tell them if they remember any additional information after the interview, that they should write it down and then give you a call. Tell them that if they miss you when they call, they should leave a message with all the information they wrote down. 

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