One thing is to have the theoretical knowledge, the other is to have the practical experience. This time we dive into the reality of Research interviews: how it looks, what can go wrong, how to react in unpredictable situations.
In the previous posts I already discussed some theory behind Research interviews. I gave the same intro to my mentees and with it they were sent into action.
The beginning was not painless so let us look at some troubles that complicated it:
Wordiness vs shyness
There are shy people and there are the unstoppable people. These are personality traits you have to count with. If you are talking to people you have never met before, you might not know what kind of person you are going to meet.
If the person is shy, you will have to make them comfortable, let them take their time. Break the ice as much as possible, just do not overdo it. You have to be ready to ask more questions and pay attention to what they say, get the subtle hints and react to them.
Talkative people are harder to stop than to persuade to talk. Give them the space to voice their opinions and give you what you need, but if they keep saying the same thing or they go too far off topic, do not be afraid to take the lead and guide them back to meaningful conversation.
People you know will also react differently than complete strangers. People who are stressed will react differently than calm people. There are lots of variables. So always try to keep your mind open and be empathic to the person you are speaking with.
Research interviews are private. Do not bring someones superior or colleague to it. I hope it is clear that it will completely mess up the atmosphere in the room.
Mainly if you do something for the first time, you will mess up some things. You will be stressed yourself. Important thing is not to worry. You will get better. Just take a deep breath and start slowly. Prepare notes so you always have a backup plan to go to.
Even if the start is bad, you can salvage the entire situation by not panicking and just continuing calmly. If you forget to mention something important, decide if it is important. If it is, say it, otherwise let it be. You will mention it next time.
It is good to come with someone more senior or your friend who can help you out in case you get stuck. At least until you become confident on your own. But it is also important to become confident eventually and not always seek help.
Cooperation with assistant
Whenever you are working with your colleague or friend together on Research interview, it is essential to that you work together. Do not interrupt each other, do not fight for authority, etc.
Interrupting each other does not help anyone, even if you do not agree with the question your co-interviewer is asking, let her finish – unless it is very inappropriate question. Even if you are unsure, make it appear like you two are rolling together and you both have done this million times before.
Try to stay in the topic. Let your co-interviewer finish all her questions regarding certain topic or subtopic before moving on. Once something is said you can always go back to it when you finish the idea that prompted the new topic in the first place.
Respect each other and do not fight for authority. Work as a team. And if you feel there is issue, clear it out after the interview. Do not lecture each other during an interview.
Practice makes perfect
Doing something for the first times can be difficult. Even doing it for the second time. They say it takes 10 thousand hours of doing something to become expert at it.
Use these tips to learn more about Research interviews. Read about them on the web. Do not worry about failures, they only make you better if you learn from them.
I am proud to say that my mentees completed quite the amount of interviews and improved drastically. And so can anybody else if they try hard enough.