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Interview is a very important data gathering technique as in this the analyst directly contacts system and the potential user of the proposed system.

One very essential aspect of conducting the interview is that the interviewer should first establish a rapport with the interviewee. It should also be taken into account that the interviewee may or may not be a technician and the analyst should prefer to use day to day language instead of jargon and technical terms.

For the interview to be a success the analyst should be appropriately prepared, as he needs to be beforehand aware of what exactly needs to be asked and to what depth. Also he should try to gather maximum relevant information and data. As the number and type of respondents vary, the analyst should be sensitive to their needs and nature.

The advantage of interviews is that the analyst has a free hand and he can extract almost all the information from the concerned people but then as it is a very time consuming method, he should also employ other means such as questionnaires, record reviews, etc.

This may also help the analyst to verify and validate the information gained. Interviewing should be approached, as logically as possible and from a general point of view the following guides can be very beneficial for a successful interview.

  1. Set the stage for the interview.

  2. Establish rapport; put the interviewee at ease.

  3. Phrase questions clearly and succinctly.

  4. Be a good listener; avoid arguments.

  5. Evaluate the outcome of the interview.

The interviews are of two types namely structured and unstructured.

  1. Structured Interview

  2. Unstructured Interview

Structured Interview

Structured interviews are those where the interviewee is asked a standard set of questions in a particular order. All interviewees are asked the same set of questions.

The questions are further divided in two kinds of formats for conducting this type of interview. The first is the open-response format in which the respondent is free to answer in his own words. An example of open-response is "Why are you dissatisfied with the current leave processing method?" The other option is of closed-response format, which limits the respondents to opt their answer from a set of already prescribed choices. An example of such a question might be "Are you satisfied with the current leave processing methods?" or "Do you think that the manual leave processing procedure be changed with some automated procedure?"

Unstructured Interview

The unstructured interviews are undertaken in a question-and-answer format. This is of a much more flexible nature than the structured interview and can be very rightly used to gather general information about the system.

Here the respondents are free to answer in their own words. In this way their views are not restricted. So the interviewer get a bigger area to further explore the issues pertaining to a problem.

Structured Vs Unstructured Interviews

Each of the structured and unstructured interview methods has its own merits and demerits. We will consider the structured format first and that too its advantages. This method is less time consuming and the interviewer need not be a trained person.

It is easier to evaluate objectively since answers obtained are uniform. On the other hand a high level of structure and mechanical questions are posed which may earn the disliking of the respondents. Also this kind of structure may not be appropriate for all situations and it further limits the respondent spontaneity.

In unstructured interviews the respondents are free to answer and present their views. Also there may be case that some issue might surface spontaneously while answering some other question. In that case the respondent can express views on that issue also.

But at times, it may happen that the interview goes in some undesired direction and the basic facts for which the interview was organized do not get relieved. So the analyst should be careful while conducting interviews.


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