Intentional Interview Critique
Morehead State University
The following critique is over my interview with my client. It will describe the setting, body language of both myself and the client, attending skills used, if any, as well as challenges I may have faced while during the interviewing process.
Intentional Interview Critique
Everyone thinks they are good at listening, even myself, until I had to put it to the ultimate test. Before this assignment, I thought I could handle a simple interview. The second I pressed record, though, I was proven completely wrong. To put it simply, I need MUCH improvement on the actual interviewing process. The following sections will elaborate on what I mean exactly.
My client was completely comfortable with talking about their situation as long as they felt as if no one could overhear them talking. This made it quite difficult to pick a location for the interview they would be comfortable with. In the end, I decided the safest place for the client’s needs to be met was in my car. Although it may seem unprofessional, it did provide them with a sense of ease, which was my biggest concern. Our text states that we must be aware of our how our environment/surroundings will affect our clients, as well as the distractions that could occur within said environment. (Karen K. Kirst-Ashman and Grafton H. Hull, 2017) I tried to keep that concept in mind while choosing the place to hold interview. The best part of my interviewing process was certainly this.
My Body Language
To be completely honest, at the beginning of the interview, I felt like a poorly programmed robot. I said everything almost in a monotone, scripted way but it also showed I wasn’t very confident in what I was saying. I kept looking down out of nervousness and fiddling with my pen subconsciously. If I wasn’t confident in what I was saying, how was I supposed to expect my client to think of me as competent in this field? After my initial introduction, I think I began to realize how that wasn’t working very well. Although the client was still sharing their story with me, it was noticeable they weren’t fully comfortable. I began to make eye contact with them to show I truly was interested in what they were saying. I made sure to smile, when appropriate, and nod in response. I also did the notorious “mm-hmm” multiple times. In the heat of the moment, I guess I thought it was appropriate and showed I was indeed paying attention. Upon listening to it back, I cringed at myself for using it so much.
Clients Body Language
As stated above, my lack of confidence reflected in my client at first. They looked around the car frantically, clearly showing they were uncomfortable. They felt as nervous as I did. Once I began to take notice to this and change my actions, theirs very visibly changed as well. They began to look at me when talking, fidget less, and feel more comfortable expressing their emotions. I could see the relief coming from them to have finally talked about this with someone in a nonjudgmental way. This revealed to me that how I am portraying myself and my emotions can clearly reflect on my clients and make them feel the same, if not worse, than I did.
Before I had met with my client, I had written out a summary of what I wanted to include within my introduction. I had practiced it until I had it memorized. That was my first mistake. I sounded like a robot when I first started, much to my dismay. I thought it was a great introduction until listening back. Even though I did cover my bases with getting consent from them and documenting it, I wish I would’ve gone about it differently. I told the client I was a student at MSU and was using this interview to help me further my knowledge about different individuals coping skills. Even though I mentioned the point of the interview, it still went in another direction entirely. I blame myself for that in not being clearer in this portion of the interview. With that being said, if I could, I would introduce myself completely differently. The next time I interview a client I will ensure I do not sound like a robot. I will begin the conversation by thanking them for doing this to alleviate some stress/nerves from the both of us. That small act of genuineness would already show the client I care about what they are going to say and am not just here for the paycheck, or in this case, the grade. After that, I would go about introducing myself and asking their name, and so on.
I will begin this section by stating that I was completely awful using these. It was so easy to plan out certain question to follow the guidelines of them, but actually saying what I had written out proved to be a much more difficult task that I thought. I’ll start with communicating warmth and genuineness. I did smile at the client, namely when they were talking about how far they had come since the situation had first occurred, to show genuine happiness that their life has improved thus far. I also did make sure to say how impressed I was with them regarding their success, in moving away from an abusive family and not letting their past hold them back. After the interview, the client actually thanked me for giving him a place to talk about his troubles and just listen. I also made sure to thank them for allowing me to interview them, since I realized they didn’t have to. All in all, though, I need to work on my professional empathy, warmth and genuineness. I may be all those things in my personal life, but I need to learn how to translate those skills into professional ones.
• Simple encouragement- Our text says this qualifies as a simple “mm-hmm” or one-worded responses to let them know it’s okay to keep going. I most certainly did this, maybe even a little too much! I did not, however, use them to keep the client on track. The interview ended up being more about the issues themselves rather than the coping skills. My overuse of “yeah” and “mm-hmm” definitely played a role in the misdirection of the interview. Next time I plan to monitor my use of those encouragements and ensure they are used correctly according to the purpose.
• Rephrasing- I could not find one strong example of this skill throughout the entire interview. I believe I didn’t use it because the nerves, as bad as that sounds. The client had so much to say and I barely got a word in. When I did, I focused more on the other attending skills instead. I believe I could have used this at the beginning, when they were discussing their issues with heartbreak. Instead of asking for specific examples of this, I could have rephrased their response in a way to show I was listening well and directed the interview towards the goal more. Something like “Heartbreak has clearly proven to hurt your trust in other people and create issues like anxiety and depression. Why don’t you tell me what helped you to get through that difficult time?”
• Reflective responding- The only strong example of this I could find was when the client was talking about their previous struggles with heartbreak. They mentioned a former friend that had betrayed them and a girlfriend that cheated on them that they never thought would, to which I responded, “No matter how well you think you know someone, you can’t ever truly know them”. They seemed to agree with that statement, and even said it was a hard thing for them to swallow.
• Clarification- The only example of this I can hear is when the client briefly mentioned they were now living with their grandparents. I questioned the fact he specified he was now living with them. When I found the chance to get a question in, I asked had that always been the situation. That question made them go on to identify the much larger issue they had been dealing with.
• Interpretation- I cannot pinpoint an example of this that I correctly used. I believe this is mostly because I was not strong in guiding our interview, as mentioned above. If I could go back and use this skill, I would! One example of how I would’ve used this is when the client was talking about how their parents had bought their younger brother a 2017 Camaro and wouldn’t even take him to try for his license. I could’ve said something along the lines of, “Even though what you family has done is wrong, perhaps your younger brother is also harboring a resentment towards them for not sharing the treatment he was receiving with you?”
• Summarization- Although I did use this skill at the end of the interview, I could have done much, much better. Looking back, I wish I had focused more on the actual details of what they had told me and saying a summary of that rather than only what the client has accomplished in the present. I feel like that would have left a stronger impact on the client than just repeating their current accomplishments. It would’ve seemed I listened more than they might’ve thought I did.
I believe I may have encouraged the client to speak with my closed-ended questions too well. I think I asked two or three questions in total. I wanted to ask more, but the client seemed so passionate about what they were saying. I was afraid me changing the subject may make it seem like I was invalidating what they were saying, deeming what I had to say/ask as more important. Getting the client to talk about their problem was the easy part! The act of getting in questions about how they resolved said problem was extremely difficult, in fact, I never got one question of that nature in. I will say I do understand how much the problem has affected the client’s life. It made them lose the ability to trust anyone fully and question nearly everything, and everyone, in their life. I couldn’t imagine feeling as they did for so long. I wish I could say I know what resolving this meant to the client, but I don’t. I never got to that part of the interview, sadly. I would like to say if I had more time, I may have gotten to that point. Honestly, though, no amount of time would helped me improve this interview. I need much more practice before I can ensure my clients get the best possible version of my professional self.
Going into this, I foolishly thought I would face no challenges. Although there wasn’t any cultural diversity, there was some basic diversity between my client and myself. Our book mentions the topic of individualization, or in other words, how every person is unique and experiences life differently. (Karen K. Kirst-Ashman and Grafton H. Hull, 2017) It was hard for me to grasp at times just how cruel the client’s parents could be. My own parents, who have indeed treated me wrongly in the past, could never even dream of behaving in such a way. That made it such a hard concept to wrap my head around. I can, with full confidence, say there was no silence in my interview. It may have been from the lack of me being able to get thought-provoking questions in, but still. Next time, if there was silence, I would first define what kind of silence was occurring. If it is client-initiated, I will gauge if they are having an internal conversation to organize their thoughts. It would be rude for me to interrupt that, as it may lead to a crucial discovery in the interview. If it is negative worker-initiated I must work to gather my thoughts on how to proceed and respond depending on how the client is taking the silence. I also did not have to deal with confrontation in my interview. In the future, when I do encounter it, I plan only use it when I know for sure that this will benefit the client in some way. If I am doing it for my own personal gain, then I have made a grave mistake. The book also mentions using “I” statements instead of “you” statements. I plan to use this as well because it will show that I am not just placing blame on the client and trying to be rude, instead I am trying to show I care about their progress as a person. Finally, I did not have any hostility/suspicion of untruth. When I do encounter it in the future, I plan to evaluate if confronting what I believe to be false would do more harm than it would good. For instance, a client may be talking about something trivial and tell a white lie. I would have to evaluate if confronting this lie would be worth losing my clients trust. If the client was to tell a lie that could bring potential harm to themselves/another person, I would have to confront them. The client’s overall safety is my main priority in that case, not the foundations of trust.
All in all, I must say my interviewing skills need a whole lot of refining before I can be deemed a professional. This time around I was robotic, failed to use attending skills properly, and couldn’t accurately guide the interview in fear of upsetting the client. I plan to work on these skills to ensure my future client’s get the best possible care from me.
Karen K. Kirst-Ashman and Grafton H. Hull, J. (2017). The Interview Setting. In K. Kirst-Ashman, ; G. Hull Jr., Empowerment Series: Understanding Generalist Practice (pp. 70-71). Boston: Cengage Learning.