Friday, 9 March 2018

Do you have a 'rider' to prepare interviewees?

Post-Oscars, 'riders' seem to be all over the news.

I've always taken great care in ensuring all participants about to be involved in a knowledge transfer interview, understand the process and my role.

This is for a few of reasons. 

  • As a facilitator, I want the trust of everyone involved 
  • That they know they will have control over any written outputs*.
  • I need them to put aside plenty of time to have a meaningful, in-depth conversation and not worry about missing a meeting
  • They may think about others that they would like to be involved, in addition to those who may have an obvious need to be involved.
  • I always audio record discussions, with permission. After explaining this is purely to ensure that I create an accurate representation of what was discussed (I can't take verbatim notes of a 3 hour discussion).

I was prompted to mention this, as Josh Berhoff has written an interesting blog post about how to prepare an interviewee. Before he asks a question, he always says

'This interview is on the record. However, as we conduct the interview, if there is something you would like to share off the record, let me know at the time. Before I publish anything, I’ll share with you the passage that’s about you, so you can check that the facts are accurate and the quotes accurately reflect what you wanted to say. OK?'

This 'rider' is good journalistic advice and very necessary for anything that will be published in a public forum. * With his opening statement, Bernhoff retains control over what is written. Only the facts and direct quotes can be challenged by the interviewee before publication. This is very different for a knowledge transfer output, where the sentiment and nuance, as well as facts, can make a big difference to how the know-how is conveyed. 

The very best knowledge transfer 'interviews' are where there is a free-flowing dialogue between those that have deep expertise and those who have a need to know. In practice, the facilitator's role is critical in ensuring a deep-dive and all key topics are fully explored, but in a light-touch way.

Bernhoff's post contains a lot of sound advice for interviewers, but remember that his purpose is journalistic, not as a knowledge transfer facilitator.

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