chapter  5
18 Pages

A Phased Approach to Interviewer Training

The interview is one of the most frequently used methods of obtaining information from people. It is indispensable whenever the relevant information cannot be observed directly and when the data cannot be collected by means of psychological tests or questionnaires. This is the case, for example, when a victim or witness of a crime is required to give a description of the incident. For the police, in particular, interviewing is one of the major tools of investigation. Research in Germany has shown, for example, that police officers spend approximately 70% to 80070 of their total working time interviewing witnesses, victims, and suspects (Herren, 1976). However, interviewing is not an important tool only in criminal investigations. Wells, Benson, and Hoff (1985), for example, estimated that physicians spend at least 50% of their time with patients talking with them. Personnel selections are usually, at least in part, based on interviews with the job applicants. Furthermore, interviews playa central role in psychological assessment in general, therapeutic intervention, journalistic investigations, market research, and opinion polls, to name but a few examples. The aims of interviews can be divided into two categories: First, interviews are conducted to evaluate present moods, attitudes, and opinions, or to establish rapport with the interviewee. In all these cases retrieval of information from the interviewee's memory is of only minor importance.