Techniques for Successful SME Interviews

Intercom-March 2000; By Jennifer L. Lambe; Summary by Maria Christophel (2006) This article acknowledges the various techniques for gathering information, but it provides techniques for conducting successful interview with subject matter experts (SMEs). The article notes that SMEs may have various degrees of communication skills and therefore, it is the writer’s (interviewer’s) job to get prepared to optimize the results of the interview. It provides steps that should be taken prior, during, and after the interview. The steps prior to the interview include defining objectives, preparing for the meeting, and being punctual. The steps for during the interview include using active listening skills, asking open-ended questions, politely controlling the interview, repeating information to ensure understanding, identifying gaps, being accurate, organizing the information, and making no promises. The steps for closing the interview include thanking the SMEs, asking permission to follow up, reviewing notes immediately after the interview.