Interviewing is the most common elicitation technique used by business analysts. Interviewing stakeholders either individually or in a group is a straightforward approach to obtain requirements.
The definition of interviewing as per BABOK V2 – “a systematic approach for eliciting information from a person (or a group of people) in an informal or formal setting by asking questions and documenting the responses.”
Interviewing stakeholders or end users allows the business analyst to ask open ended and probing questions to uncover the necessary requirements and understand their presumptions. Before the end of the interview the interviewer should send their notes to the interviewee for review. They will be helpful in verifying facts, clarify ambiguity, engage the ultimate users and recognize requirements .Interviews will help business analyst to maintain a cordial relationship with the interviewee and make them feel involved in the project.
In an interview, a business analyst formally or informally directs questions to a stakeholder / a subject-matter-expert / a potential user to obtain answers. In a group interview the interviewer must be careful to solicit responses from all attendees.
Interviews basically are of two types:-
- Structured interview, where the interviewer has a pre-defined set of questions to ask.
- Unstructured interview, the interviewer and the interviewee discuss in an open-ended way.
Business Analyst will be the Interviewer and the stakeholder/user will be interviewee.
- Prepare for the interview
- Define the interview’s focus or goal.
- Identify potential interviewees. This can be done by contacting the specific stakeholders/ subject –matter- experts/ users whose presence is required during the interview.
- Design the interview for each identified interviewee.
- The Business analyst should be definite about the format of the interview, either structured or unstructured.
- If a structured interview, the type of questions:
Closed-ended questions: require finite responses from the interviewee either “Yes” or “No”?
Open-ended questions: they are comprehensive and require more than one or two word responses, they will solicit additional information from the interviewee.
- Arrange the questions in a logical order so that the process of interviewing will go in a linear manner and can help in collecting all the relevant information.
- If the interview is to be recorded then discuss the purpose of recording and usage of the recording equipment with the interviewee.
- Conduct the interview
- The business analyst starts the interview by giving an introduction and states the purpose of the interview, addresses any concerns raised by the interviewee, and explains that notes will be taken and shared with the interviewee after the interview.
- The focal point of the interviewer is to maintain focus on the established goals and pre-defined questions.
- All presumptions of the interviewee will be addressed during the interview or documented for follow-up after the interview or in a subsequent interview.
- Lastly, the business analyst closes the by summarizing the session, reminds the interviewee of the upcoming review process and thanks the interviewee for his/her time.
- Post interview follow-up and review
After the interview is completed, the business analyst organizes the information elicited and sends the notes to the interviewee for the purpose of review. The review will help in identifying the things that are improper or missing.
Factors that can influence the process of interviewing
ü Level of understanding of the business analyst in that business domain.
ü Ability of the business analyst in documenting the discussions.
ü Listening skills of the interviewer.
- Very simple, easy and straightforward technique that can be used in varying situations
- Allows the interviewer and interviewee to have full discussions and explanations of the questions and answers.
- The interviewer can confirm his own understanding by asking follow-up and probing questions.
- Time consuming-Business analyst has to spend a significant portion of their time in preparing the interview questions and gathering the relevant information as much as possible.
- Interviews are not an ideal approach of reaching common agreement across a group of stakeholders.