Interviewing is one of the most important and commonly performed activities in human services. Perfect interviewing skills are necessary for social workers as a primary tool used in social activity. Techniques and purposes of a social interview have unique features that clearly distinct them from other types of the interviewing process. Thus, the aim of this paper is to explore the purpose of social interviewing, its functions, and the information to be discussed during an interview. Moreover, the ways of conducting an interview are suggested along with highlighting the techniques that can be applied in order to make a client feel comfortable during the process.Â Â
The Main Purpose and Derivative Functions of an Interview
Most human services are offered and implemented by social workers through a process that starts with an interview. An interview might have several purposes depending on the exact type of an interview such as informational, evaluative, and therapeutic. The main purpose is to obtain required information about the client that can be used as a background for further evaluation or completing a social study. This information provides an interviewer with some details about the client and highlights the client’s situation.
Thus, collecting information is only the beginning of the process that continues with some additional function. Derivative functions of an interview include solving a problem or a dispute, counseling, trying to understand the needs and provide emotional support to an individual. The main role of a social worker in conducting an interview is to be able to identify special needs a client might have and appreciate them in the process of establishing and developing further communication.
Areas and Information to Be Covered During an Interview
During an interview, a social worker has to lead the conversation in order to get some information about the client regarding main issues of concern or problems the client has. In order to investigate the issues further, the interviewer should start with investigating a social history of the client. Hence, it includes asking questions about the social background and relationships in the client’s family, the client’s and family members’ educational background, employment, cultural level, health, etc. This information is useful for evaluating home environment.
Moreover, experience, memories, or separate moments that somehow influenced the person’s life should also be discussed.
The Ways to Make a Client Feel Comfortable During an Interview
There is a variety of methods and strategies that can be used by social workers in order to successfully conduct an interview and make a client feel positive and completely comfortable when answering questions. First of all, an interviewer must use a nonjudgmental attitude and accept the information from the customer with a limited level of emotional involvement. The client will feel more comfortable when he or she feels that no one judges or gives a negative feedback on the described situation or client’s actions.Â
Furthermore, interviewing is directly connected to the relationship process between a social worker and a client. Thus, an interviewer should encourage a client to express own feelings by building supportive and understanding relationship. By explaining to the client that the conversation is completely confidential, the interviewer can gain a needed level of trust that is one of the core points of success in problem solving.
The First Interview
If I had to conduct my first interview, I would be planning it very carefully in advance. I believe it can be quite a challenging process since it requires understanding and finding a right approach to each client. Moreover, I would focus at structuring it in the way that brings the best results and clear answers to the questions. My preparation to the interview would include considering the list of questions I am going to ask the client and the way they have to be formulated not to confuse or scare the respondent.
I would start the interview with establishing trust and understanding between me and the person I am interviewing. I am convinced that it is important to be friendly and use a calm voice during the conversation. It is essential to start by leading the conversation and making the topic of the interview straight-forward although the client must be encouraged to talk as much as possible during the conversation by the interviewer providing supporting unemotional comments. Additionally, I should be ready to act spontaneously and ask extra questions that are not mentioned in the list in case the client starts talking about something unexpected. At the end of the interview, I would sum up the information with the client’s help to make all the points clear and easy to work with. The results should be discussed with the client who will be able to see the situation from the side by then, not only based on personal emotions and attitude. The discussion will allow suggesting a possible solution to the client.
Thus, interviewing has an important role in human services and everyday life. A purpose that social workers aim at is to understand clients’ issues and help to find a solution by using special tactics during the process. Interviewing is considered to be the most essential part of the human services. Hence, intentional interviewing skills, correctly understanding every step of the process, and being able to apply various interviewing techniques are crucial for social workers.