Where you conduct your strategic interviews can have a significant impact on the results obtained.
The interviews should be held in a relatively neutral location, away from the interviewee’s place of work.
If the interview has to be held within the workplace, then it should be away from the interviewees office or workstation. This helps to reduce the possibility of interruption and, perhaps more importantly, to move them out of their own environment, or ‘comfort zone’.
Using a neutral location also aids facilitation, as you can set the room up in advance, making it as ‘user friendly’ as possible. The seating positions of the facilitator and the individual involved are very important. While the relative position of the interviewer and the interviewee may seem to be a minor issue but it is, in fact, critical to the outcome of the interview as it determines the nature of interaction between people.
Research has found that an angle of 90 degrees is the preferred position for open conversation.
In order to help to build a degree of mutual confidence and also to ensure that the interviewee can see what is being written, the chairs should be arranged to ensure that there is a 90 degree angle between the interviewee and interviewer, as shown.
We use this technique in all interviews and find that it works well with the majority of people. We also pay attention to the body language of people to determine if they are adopting a defensive position, preparing to compete, negotiate or argue.
This is important information when developing and, more importantly implementing, strategy as it can help identify people who may get in the way of progress as well as those who are more likely to support it. The status and/or power of the person involved will determine the degree to which their attitude towards the business’ strategy will impact upon the success of its implementation.