May 15, 2013 | Mark Paradies

Root Cause Analysis Tip: Don’t Ask “Why” During an Interview

Why NOT Ask Why?

Some people teach the “5-Why” technique for root cause analysis as their preferred method to solve problems. If you have read this blog for very long, you’ve probably been convinced that 5-Whys is at best a rudimentary technique with many inherent flaws. But you may not know that asking “Why” during an investigation interview is also a mistake.

In the 5-Day TapRooT® Advanced Root Cause Analysis Team Leader Course, we spend a majority of the second day teaching fact finding and interviewing. This section of the course highlights an advanced interviewing technique called “Cognitive Interviewing”.

Cognitive Interviewing helps the interviewee recall information that they might have otherwise forgotten or thought too unimportant to share. The Cognitive Interviewing training in our course emphasizes that the interviewer should not ask the interviewee “Why?” during the interview.

Why not ask Why? Because the question elicits justifications from the interviewee rather than getting them to share additional information from their long term memory. The “Why?” question is seen by the interviewee as accusatory (Why did you do that?) rather than a request for more information.

What should the interviewer do? Cognitive Interviewing teaches a systematic process to get the interviewee to tell their story, recalling as much as they can from their long term memory. It also teaches the interviewer to ask “What” and “How” questions to get additional information (instead of “Why?”).

Find out more about our 5-Day TapRooT® Advanced Root Cause Analysis Team Leader Course by CLICKING HERE.

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