These FAQs address the most common questions that people may have when it comes to planning, preparing for, conducting, and analysing interviews for various purposes. These FAQs are applicable to a wide range of industries and situations, such as academic research, radio broadcasting, podcast or webinar hosting, journalism, job interviews, and many others. The information provided also delves into specific aspects of the interview process, including planning for individual or group/focus group interviews, important considerations during interviews, effective questioning techniques, building rapport and managing emotional interviewees, different interview styles, and the steps to review and interpret the outcomes after the interview has taken place.
What Should I do If An Interviewee Becomes Emotional During The Interview?
Interviewing individuals in various contexts is an art that requires not only skill but also empathy and understanding. While conducting interviews, we aim to elicit information, insights, and emotions from our interviewees. However, what should you do when an interviewee becomes emotional during the interview? Managing interviewee emotions is a crucial aspect of the process, and it requires a delicate touch.
Emotions, in the context of interviews, can encompass a wide range of feelings such as anger, sadness, anxiety, or even excitement. Interviewees may become emotional for various reasons, from personal experiences related to the topic to stress and pressure. In this article, we will explore the different aspects of interviewee emotions and provide strategies and tips to manage them effectively.
Management of Emotional Interviewees
Recognising Interviewee Emotions
Before delving into how to manage interviewee emotions, it’s essential to be able to recognise when an interviewee is becoming emotional. Some signs to watch out for include changes in tone of voice, body language, facial expressions, and non-verbal cues. Example: During an interview about a traumatic event, the interviewee’s voice may crack, and tears may well up in their eyes.
Recognising when an interviewee is becoming emotional is a crucial skill that interviewers must cultivate. Emotional cues may not always be overt, and it’s essential to be attentive to subtle shifts in an interviewee’s demeanour. While some signs like changes in tone of voice, body language, facial expressions, and non-verbal cues are noticeable, there can be more nuanced indicators to watch for. These may include pauses in speech, nervous fidgeting, or even the choice of words they use.
For example, during an interview about a traumatic event, the interviewee’s voice may quiver, their eyes may well up with tears, and they might struggle to find the right words to express their feelings. Observing these cues requires a keen eye and ear, and it’s essential to be patient, allowing interviewees to express their emotions at their own pace.
Empathy and Active Listening
Empathy is a fundamental tool in handling emotional interviewees. It involves putting yourself in their shoes and trying to understand their perspective. Active listening, which includes nodding, maintaining eye contact, and providing verbal cues like “I understand” or “Tell me more,” can help the interviewee feel heard and supported. Example: When an interviewee expresses frustration about their experiences, respond with empathy, such as “I can imagine how challenging that must have been for you.”
Empathy is not just a buzzword but a cornerstone of effective communication. When interviewees become emotional, it’s crucial to put yourself in their shoes, trying to understand their perspective and what they are going through. This isn’t about merely sympathising; it’s about genuinely comprehending their emotions and experiences.
Active listening, a vital component of empathy, involves more than just hearing words. It encompasses nodding to show that you’re engaged, maintaining eye contact to convey your undivided attention, and providing verbal cues that signal your understanding and desire to hear more. Phrases like “I can imagine how challenging that must have been for you” or “Please, tell me more about how you felt in that moment” demonstrate empathy and encourage interviewees to shape their emotions.
Create a Safe and Comfortable Environment
It’s essential to create an environment where interviewees feel safe and comfortable to open up. Ensure the interview space is private and free from distractions. Make sure the interviewee knows that they can stop or take a break if they feel overwhelmed. Example: Begin the interview by reassuring the interviewee that they are in a safe and confidential space.
Creating a safe and comfortable environment is paramount when dealing with emotional interviewees. The interview space should be free from distractions, ensuring the interviewee feels that their conversation is confidential and secure. It’s vital to establish trust from the beginning, assuring the interviewee that their emotions and experiences are respected and valued.
To reinforce this sense of safety, start the interview by explicitly reassuring the interviewee that they are in a safe and confidential space. Express your commitment to maintaining their privacy and your understanding of the emotional nature of the conversation. Additionally, make sure they are aware that they can pause or take a break at any time if they feel overwhelmed, allowing them to maintain control over the situation.
Flexibility in Questioning
Sometimes, the emotional state of an interviewee may require a shift in the interview structure. Be prepared to adapt your questions or the direction of the interview to accommodate their emotional needs. Example: If an interviewee becomes too emotional when discussing a particular topic, consider moving to a less sensitive area and returning later.
In interviews, flexibility in questioning is a skill that’s particularly useful when dealing with emotional interviewees. Emotional states can change rapidly, and the interview structure may need to adapt accordingly. Being prepared to adjust your line of questioning or the direction of the interview can help accommodate interviewees’ emotional needs effectively.
For instance, if an interviewee becomes too emotional when discussing a particular topic, consider shifting the conversation to a less sensitive area and returning to the more challenging subject later. This not only allows the interviewee to regain composure but also demonstrates your adaptability and willingness to make the interview more manageable for them.
Allow Time for Emotional Expression
Emotions need an outlet, and interviewees may benefit from having a moment to express themselves before proceeding with the interview. Example: If an interviewee begins crying, give them a moment to collect themselves without pressure.
Emotions are a natural part of the human experience, and they need an outlet, even during interviews. When an interviewee becomes emotional, it’s essential to grant them the time and space to express their feelings before moving forward.
Attempting to rush through emotional moments can lead to further distress for the interviewee and potentially hinder the interview’s success. For example, if an interviewee begins to cry, give them a moment to collect themselves without pressure. Offer a tissue or a glass of water, allowing them to regain their composure before continuing. This simple act of compassion can foster trust and understanding.
Avoid Judgment and Maintain Neutrality
Maintain a non-judgmental stance and avoid imposing your own opinions or biases on the interviewee. Example: When discussing controversial subjects, keep your questions neutral to allow interviewees to express their views without fear of judgment.
Maintaining a non-judgmental stance is crucial in creating a supportive atmosphere for emotional interviewees. It’s important to keep personal opinions and biases in check and avoid imposing them on the interviewee. This ensures that they feel free to express themselves without the fear of being judged.
For instance, when discussing controversial subjects, strive to keep your questions neutral. Instead of leading questions that suggest a particular viewpoint, ask open-ended questions that allow interviewees to express their views without external influence. This neutrality promotes open and honest dialogue.
Offer Support and Resources
Sometimes, interviewees may require additional support or resources after the interview. Be prepared to provide information about counselling services, support groups, or relevant organisations. Example: If an interviewee discloses a traumatic experience, offer to connect them with a relevant support group or helpline.
Sometimes, emotional interviewees may need additional support or resources beyond the interview itself. It’s important to be prepared to provide information about counselling services, support groups, or relevant organisations that can assist them in coping with their emotions or finding additional help.
For example, if an interviewee discloses a traumatic experience, offer to connect them with a relevant support group or helpline. Providing this information shows that you care about their well-being beyond the interview and can be a valuable resource for them.
Emotional Self-Care for Interviewers
Interviewers may also experience emotional challenges during difficult interviews. It’s crucial to practice self-care to ensure you can continue to conduct interviews effectively. Example: After an emotionally taxing interview, take time to decompress, discuss your feelings with a trusted colleague, or seek professional support if needed.
Interviewers, too, can experience emotional challenges during difficult interviews. Handling emotional interviewees can be emotionally taxing, and it’s crucial for interviewers to practice self-care to maintain their own well-being and effectiveness.
After an emotionally intense interview, take time to decompress. Discuss your feelings with a trusted colleague or supervisor who can offer guidance and support. Seeking professional help or counselling if needed is also a valid option to ensure you can continue to conduct interviews effectively. Remember that taking care of yourself enables you to provide better support to interviewees.
While empathy is crucial, interviewers should strike a balance between empathy and professionalism. Example: Maintain a composed and respectful demeanour, even in emotionally charged interviews, to ensure a professional atmosphere.
While empathy is essential when dealing with emotional interviewees, it’s equally crucial to maintain professionalism throughout the process. Striking a balance between empathy and professionalism ensures that the interview remains respectful and productive.
For example, maintaining a composed and respectful demeanour, even in emotionally charged interviews, is vital. This professionalism ensures that the interview remains a structured and respectful conversation, irrespective of the emotions involved. It also sets the tone for how the interviewee should conduct themselves, promoting a productive atmosphere.
Debriefing and Reflecting
After an emotional interview, take time to debrief and reflect on the experience. Consider what went well and where improvements can be made. Example: Discuss the interview with your team or supervisor to gain insights and learn from the experience.
After an emotional interview, taking time to debrief and reflect on the experience is a valuable practice. This reflection allows you to learn from your experiences and consider what went well and where improvements can be made in future interviews.
For example, discussing the interview with your team or supervisor can provide insights and different perspectives on how to handle similar situations more effectively. By sharing your experiences and learning from them, you can refine your interview techniques and be better prepared for future emotional encounters.
By focusing on these strategies and tips, interviewers can navigate the challenges of emotional interviewees with empathy and professionalism, ultimately leading to more successful and meaningful interviews.
Key Tips To Manage Behaviour of Emotional Interviewees
- Recognise signs of emotional distress: Understanding the signs of emotional discomfort in interviewees is the first step to effective management.
- Prioritise empathy and active listening: Show that you care and are attentive to the interviewee’s emotions.
- Create a safe and comfortable environment: Ensure interviewees feel secure and have the option to pause or end the interview if needed.
- Be flexible in questioning: Adapt your approach based on the emotional state of the interviewee.
- Allow time for emotional expression: Sometimes, a brief pause can help interviewees collect themselves.
- Avoid judgment and maintain neutrality: Keep your questions and responses non-biased and open-minded.
- Offer support and resources: Be prepared to provide information on relevant support services.
- Practice emotional self-care: Take care of your own emotional well-being as an interviewer.
- Maintain professionalism: Balancing empathy and professionalism is key to a successful interview.
- Debrief and reflect: Learn from your experiences and continuously improve your interview techniques.
Why Behaviour Management of Emotional Interviewees is an Essential Skill
In the world of interviewing, understanding and managing interviewee emotions is an essential skill. By recognising emotional cues, practicing empathy, creating a safe environment, and offering support, you can conduct more meaningful and productive interviews, even when emotions run high.
Remember that professionalism should always be maintained, but it’s equally crucial to approach emotional interviewees with care and sensitivity. By following the strategies and tips outlined in this article, you’ll be better equipped to handle emotional interviewees and navigate challenging interviews with grace.
Key Piece of Advice: The key to successfully managing interviewee emotions is to approach each interview with an open heart and a flexible mindset. Empathy and adaptability are your most powerful tools in building trust and drawing out meaningful insights from your subjects.
Way With Words is an excellent resource for getting interviews transcribed professionally and with high accuracy. They offer transcription services that can assist with your requirements related to managing interviewee emotions and behaviour during interviews.
Harvard Business Review provides insightful articles on various topics, including effective interview techniques and emotional intelligence. Their resources can help you improve your interviewing skills.
MindTools offers a range of articles and tools to improve interpersonal skills, including those needed for handling emotional interviewees. You’ll find valuable guidance on active listening, empathy, and communication.