Many interviews require you to record factual information. This will be easier if you can develop good rapport with the client and make them feel comfortable about providing information.
At the start of the interview:
- Outline the limits of confidentiality that can be offered to the client, and obtain the client's consent for release of information to third parties where necessary, e.g. Centrelink, GP, or legal guardian/carer.
- Explain clearly what the information is required for (e.g. client service planning or court) and ensure that the information is relevant to the requirements.
- Before you begin questioning, explain that being honest with each other is essential. Sometimes being honest can be difficult for a client because:
- they have been threatened or feel threatened
- they fear future consequences
- they fear others getting into trouble
- they are in the presence of someone they do not know.
During the interview:
- Ask simple questions that seek to have them explore the information they give you. A combination of open and closed questions can help you ask about a piece of information in more than one way.
- Clarify any points that you don't understand. You may choose to let the client tell their story and seek to clarify at the end, or it may be more appropriate to walk them through their story step by step.
- Agree on statements of fact. At the closure of the interview (you can also do this throughout the interview if the information is complex), come to an agreement with the client on things that appear to be fact. Put these into short and simple statements that are clear. These can also be put into written form for the client to sign it if you think it is appropriate to do so.
To distinguish between fact, opinion, assumption and hearsay (heard from someone else) when you are presented with information:
- Check how this information came to be known.
- Explore whether it is first-or-second hand.
- Find out whether what they say is a belief or a known fact with some proof.
Reflective journal activity