January 26, 2011 | Barb Carr

Root Cause Tip: Technical Interviews

Collecting information in an investigation often involves interviewing technical experts. If the technical expert is also the designer of the equipment or procedure under investigation, you may encounter defensiveness. He may be afraid of a lawsuit or other repercussions.

There are ways to get the information you need to collect from a defensive technical expert.  Here are some tips:

  • Your expert will appreciate it if you value his time by preparing for the interview and reading all of the necessary documents in advance.
  • Write a list of open-ended questions so that if the expert gets upset, you can let him vent for a moment, and stay on course by gently guiding him back to the next question.  Make sure your list includes technical issues that need to be explained or documented by the technical expert.
  • You can help your expert feel more at ease by sending the list of these issues to the expert before the interview so that he will know what manuals or drawings to bring with him. He will also feel more in control knowing what information you expect to receive from him.
  • Help him feel relaxed before you begin questioning as you would in a participant interview by breaking the ice with questions about the spelling of his name, verifying contact information and other simple questions with easy answers.

For additional training on interviewing and effectively collecting information, consider attending the 5-Day TapRooT® Advanced Root Cause Analysis Team Leader Training. Getting good information is an important practice. In this training, you will receive one-half day of interview technique training, and also learn how the information flows into your root cause analysis.

View our public course listing: 5-Day TapRooT® Advanced Root Cause Analysis Team Leader Training

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