Type Of Interview
For my assignment I chose to examine an interview I was a party to at my place of employment with the local Association For Community Living. It was an orientation meeting for a new client moving into a group home where I currently work as a Direct Care Worker. Under the classification of interviews, my analysis focuses on an Information Giving type of interview.
As outlined in class, information giving interviews are used to obtain facts, opinions, feelings, attitudes, reasons for actions, trends or beliefs. My specific interview was to inform, organize and assist the staff team, of which I am a member, in supporting a new individual moving into the house.
Purpose Of The Interview
The purpose of this interview was to instruct the staff team on current programs and supports surrounding this individual, as well as to train and coach staff on handling techniques used through stressful periods. Lastly, this interview was to clarify all procedures to be used with this individual.
The setting for our meeting, which is of importance, was a meeting room at our local Head Office. The meeting took place at 1900 on January 9, 1996. The meeting included the supervisor and three staff team members.
A physical description of the environment is as follows: a large wooden rectangular table sits in the centre of the room with 12 chairs around it, there are 2 cluttered bookcases along one wall and a large white board along another wall. There are no pictures on the walls and no telephone. The meeting took place after business hours so the building was quiet, empty and very dark.
The opening of this interview began with cordial greetings and small talk, as we are all well-acquainted with each other. The purpose of the interview was established and we moved quickly into the body of the interview.
The supervisor, as the interviewer, was in the information giving position. The staff team were informed of relevant background information and a brief history of the individual. We began to develop new perspectives as a team by reviewing current procedures, handling techniques, supports and activities all the while trying to improve on them if possible. Problem solving was undertaken to determine strategies to support this individual with the move and any changes or adjustments. Confrontation was used by staff to identify discrepancies and distortions in the information. After much brainstorming, responsibilities were designated to each staff member for implementation. As a staff team we set goals for ourselves.
As the supervisor shifted the conversation towards questions or concerns surrounding the new client, I began to feel things drawing to a close. All new information was reviewed and summarized to ensure understanding. The staff's new role was clarified and the next steps were identified. After a final round of clearinghouse questions, we agreed to meet again to review and evaluate our progress after a trial period (one month).
Inclusion refers to how much a party is willing and able to take part in an interview. The staff team were willing and able to learn. The supervisor was able but seemed somewhat closed to offering specific information. For example, the supervisor was evasive to questions regarding specific amounts of support required for the new client.
As the interview progressed, the unwillingness on the supervisor's part to exchange information caused defensiveness in the staff members. The supervisor continued this throughout and staff became noticeably upset and frustrated.
Control refers to the degree of power each party in the interview has to influence the nature and/or outcome of that interview. The supervisor, from my point of view, had more control due to job position/status, as well as having the information that staff was seeking. Control was exercised by the supervisor by limiting the amount of information shared. This had a negative effect on staff and the interview as a whole.
The power struggle between staff and supervisor seemed to increase as the interview progressed. The staff became agitated to receive further information and the supervisor became less inclined to offer any.
Affection refers to the degree of warmth between the parties in the interview. This is completely a personal perception on my part. The supervisor appeared hostile towards two staff members in particular. I base this judgement on complete lack of eye contact and verbal bluntness with these particular staff. The supervisor was seemingly speaking to one staff only. I felt negative feelings from staff towards the supervisor intensifying as the interview progressed (body language, verbal cues). Everyone became questioning of each other and leery of the information being shared.
Level Of Interaction
There are three main levels of interaction. Level 1 being Action-Reaction. Interviews often start at this level, which exhibits the least degree of communication. Interactions deal with non-threatening questions and responses are usually superficial. Level 2 is Interaction. This level deals with more intimate or controversial areas. Nothing more is revealed than need be. Level 3 is Transaction. This level is the highest degree of interpersonal involvement, formed through trust and positive rapport. All parties are actively listening and responding with a high degree of intimacy and honesty.
In my opinion, this interview would very much be considered within Level 2, Interaction. The interview began at Level 1 during the opening phase and entry into the body of the interview (superficial small talk to pass time). It then progressed to Level 2 as we entered further into the body of the interview. We began to discuss more intimate details of an individual's life and ideas for support were shared. Personal feelings were briefly touched upon. Both staff and supervisor were asking and answering questions of each other without offering too much information. I don't believe that this interview ever attained Level 3.
Verbal & Non-Verbal Communication
Verbal and non-verbal communication signals are presented by every individual. These signals are very important because they alter our responses. Ninety percent of any message we convey is non-verbal, even when talking. It has been shown through research that the non-verbal messages tend to outweigh the verbal messages.
My perception of the verbal communication from the supervisor would be described as: abrupt, fluctuating high-pitched voice, incomplete phrases, jerky speed of speech, very repetitious with many hesitations throughout the interview. My perception of the staff member's verbal communication could be best described as: quiet, tense, frequent hesitations, many irregular pauses in speech, repetitious questions with a varied inflection in voice.
The non-verbal communication I perceived from the supervisor could be best described as follows: eyes cast downward, sighing frequently, often having raised eyebrows, rapid breathing, infrequent smiling at selected participants, stiff and shifting posture with some head nodding noted. I perceived the non-verbal communication from the staff to be: shoulders shrugged, leaning back in seats, sideways eye glancing, crossed legs, folded arms, sighing, slouched posture, clasped hands and some head nodding.
Questioning & Interviewing Techniques
The placement and types of questions used during an interview can be very important to providing framework and encouraging desired topics. Closed questions, which are used to get specific facts and limit information shared, were used very frequently by the supervisor during this interview ("Do you agree?"). Open-ended questions, which allow more sharing of information and control, were used very infrequently and mostly by staff members rather than the supervisor ("How do we proceed from here?"). Indirect questions, which are less threatening questions in the form of statements, were infrequently used during the interview ("You seem confused.").
Focusing on the interviewing techniques used by the supervisor during this interview, I noted that minimal encouragers (head nodding) and accenting (repeating key words) were used. Paraphrasing and summarizing were also used by both staff and supervisor to convey and assure understanding of relevant information to the other party.
Effectiveness Of The Interview
This interview was effective in sharing only some of the relevant information. I would say it was not as effective as it could have been due to the breakdown in communication as the interview progressed. The staff's perceived evasiveness of the supervisor caused further tension and frustration. The ineffectiveness of the interview to alleviate staff's concerns regarding the new client was evident to me after speaking with co-workers following the closing of the interview.
The Interviewer's Strengths & Weaknesses
I feel bias in surveying the strengths and weaknesses of my supervisor. Under strengths, I would say that my supervisor ensured that there would be no distractions, allowed each individual opportunity to share feelings or ideas and arrived on time and well organized with a detailed agenda. I would say that my supervisor was ineffective in responding to questions, closed minded to suggested alternatives and unsupportive of the staff team.
How Might The Interview Have Been Improved?
I feel more knowledgeable due to my class studies to be able to suggest viable alternatives to improve on the outcome of this interview. I believe that each party should be more open to others' ideas and be aware of mental arguing with others. Each party must try to keep personal feelings out of professional settings by being aware of biases and putting them aside if possible. I also believe that honesty amongst all parties (complete and accurate information, sharing of true feelings) is vital to developing a successful helping relationship. Each party must concentrate and listen to what the other is saying to be able to gain a true understanding of one another.
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