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Submitted by
Imran Ahmad
M.A previous (evening)
Class No. 22
Submitted to
Dr. Sara Safdar


Assignment Interviewing in social work


Contents Page#

1. Introduction 01

2. Interviewing in Social Work 02

Definition, Description

3. Kinds of interview in Casework 04

Single and series of interviews

4. Technical Assessment Principles 04

Person, problem, situation-intervention system
Task implementation

5. Techniques of Interviewing 05
Meaning of techninques

6. 1.Acceptance 05

7. 2.Observation, 3.Listening 06

8. 4.Art of Questioning 07

9. 5.Answering the Questions 08

10. 6.Leadership of Direction 09

11. 7.Interpretation 09

12. 8.Closing the Session 09

13. Conclusion 10

14. References 11

By: Imran Ahmad MA previous evng

Assignment Interviewing in social work

Every individual in one or other way is an interviewer and interviewee and most often
interview or conversation on day to day matters take place between them. In our daily life,
the conversation between the teacher and student, doctor and patient, lawyer and interviewee
are the examples of the interview. Or TV interview such
as HOT SEAT, a PTV World program in which a well
known personal of the country is interviewed, or SUCH
HAY a public oriented interviewing program of PTV
World in which the streets people are interviewed.
Robart Kahn and Charles Connell has defined interview as
 A specialized pattern of verbal interaction-initiated for a specific purpose
focused on some specific content are, with consequent elimination of
extraneous material. Moreover, the interview is the pattern of interactions in
which the role relationship of interviewer and respondent is highly specialized

 An interview is a basic process of communication in which two or more

persons interact to achieve some goals. Essentially an interview is a
purposeful conversation.

 An interview is a conversation between two or more people where questions

are asked to obtain information about the interviewee.

 A scientific method through which a person enters into the inner life of a
stranger (P.V. Young)

 A face-to-face interpersonal situation in which one ask the question from other
to get answer related to the existing social problem (Kerienger)

 A process of dyadic, relational communication, with a predetermined and

serious purpose designed to interchange behavior and involving the asking
and answering of questions (O’Hair, Page 267)

We can say that interview is a data collection procedure involving verbal communication
between the interviewer and the interviewee. In simple words an interview is a two way
conversation between interviewer and interviewee for collecting information about existing
situation or problem. (Alam. A) P.V. Young says, “the interview may be regarded as a
systematic method by which a person enters more or less imaginatively into the inner life of a
comparative stranger.” Interview is fundamentally a process of social interaction. In the
interview two persons are not just present at the same place, but also influence each other
emotionally and intellectually. (Khalid. M)

By: Imran Ahmad MA previous evng

Assignment Interviewing in social work

Interviewing in
Social work

Social work interviews are descried as conversation with a purpose. An interview is a process
which involves a combination of social psychology and sociology, where theories and
information about people in their social circumstances, their motivation and their responses in
interpersonal relationships can be used to help the worker understand the individual in their
situation, and to gain relevant information and offer appropriate support. (Social work Practice)
Although social work involves a great deal more than interviewing, social workers spend
more time in interviewing than in any other single activity. It is the most important and most
frequently used social work skill. This is most clearly true for the direct service worker, i.e.
caseworker. But the group worker and community organizer also frequently participate in

The human service literature describes the interview as "the most

pervasive basic social work skill," as a "fundamental social work
activity," and as "a primary social work tool-in-trade." The
interview is the context through which social workers offer and
implement most human services. The interview is the primary
instrument they use to obtain an understanding of clients and
their situation and for helping clients deal with their problem.
(Alfred Kadushin - author, Goldie Kadushin)

The social work interview is a set of communications with four special characteristics: (1) it
has context or setting; (2) it is purposeful and directed; (3) it is limited and contractual; and
(4) it involves specialized role relationships. The context or setting for the interview will
usually be that of a particular agency offering defined services to clients bringing specified
problems to the agency. The context, of course, provides limit to the communications and
becomes a basis for the “elimination of extraneous material”, i.e. material not related to the
particular context. Social work interviews are purposeful and directed in the sense that they
are conducted to accomplish specific goals (a legitimate purpose may certainly be the
definition of goals of furthering worker-client communication). Conversely interviews are not
casual exchanges of information or informal conversations. The purpose of the interviews
provides a basis for limiting communications and eliminating extraneous material. (Compton &

For social workers, interviewing is a very important activity. Interviewing is one of the chief
means through which most of the information used in social diagnosis is secured from the
client. In getting the desired information about the person and his problem, it is now
generally agreed that the client must be considered the first and the best person to give it.
(Khalid. M)

The method of interview is very extensive in social work. An interview is a direct method of
enquiry. Unlike an ordinary conversation, it is goal-oriented. The purpose of the interview,
however, is not to collect the superficial details of the interview. It should not be approached
as an interaction in which the worker appears with a pencil and paper and makes a “shopping

By: Imran Ahmad MA previous evng

Assignment Interviewing in social work

list” of the client’s problems or complaints. Instead, an interview is an interpersonal

encounter in which the interviewer aims to put the interviewee at ease in order to gain a clear
understanding of the client’s reason for appearing at the clinic, hospital or office. The purpose
is to probe into the inner life of the interviewee. Therefore the method of interview is direct
as well as in-depth study
The goals of the interview vary in different settings. In a psychiatric unit the object may be to
explore a patient’s mental status, the environmental factors (home, occupation) affecting his
life and the characteristic ways in which he deals with the world.

In a lawyer’s office the objective may be to weigh a client’s chances of winning a lawsuit
through an examination of the elements in her favor. In a hospital it may be to determine the
symptoms the parson in manifesting and the previous treatment received. Or a personal
interview may aim for the suitability of an applicant for a particular job.

As we have noted, interviewing goals vary depending upon the type of setting and the
professional framework in which the worker operates. However, whatever the objective-
whether to determine the cause and extent of an emotional or physical disorder, or sessions
with other aims-every interview is purposeful. (Wicks.R.J)

Main objective of the interview is to collect the information regarding three things, i.e.
• Client
• Problem
• Condition

The objectives of the social work interviews which seem to be important are as following;
(Khalid. M) & (Wicks.R.J)

• To collect information about the interviewee, his family, his relatives, his friends,
existing problem, the time of the occurrence of the problem of the interviewee
• To gain inner feeling of the interviewee
• To develop rapport or relation between the interviewer and the interviewee
• To study the interviewee, his problems, his needs and resources
• To give the interviewee an opportunity of emotional release, a feeling of security and
to gain insight into his problems and some of their causes
• To explain the interviewee assistance which is available and what is expected from
• To collect information regarding the previous treatments of the present complaints,
psychological and medical history, family history and current environment etc
• To examine the mental status of the interviewee
• To examine the emotional state, thought process, orientation and memory of the

By: Imran Ahmad MA previous evng

Assignment Interviewing in social work

Interview is a mean or an end to find out the potentials and capabilities of the interviewee.
His weaknesses and flaws and drawbacks of his personality, all are tried to be explore in the
interview. Through the interview we try to find out the actual problem of the interviewee.
The actual problem may be not the one which is seemed to be the problem. There are many
other factors which are responsible for the current problem of the interviewee. So we try to
explore the actual problem through the interview. As the interviewee is a human being and he
lives in the society. We are trying to find out the conditions which are affecting him and the
situations where the interviewee has got the problem.

Kinds of interviews in social Case Work

There are two types of interviews in social case work

 Single interview
 Series of interviews
In single interview, there is only one session of the interview, i.e. the interviewer and the
interviewee meets for only once. And the information is collected from the interviewee in a
single session. For example, in a psychiatric clinic, the interviews for the purpose of
obtaining the previous history of the interviewee, i.e. case histories.
In the series of interviews, there are many sessions of the interview. The interviewer and the
interviewee meet for more then once. For example, the overall process of the treatment, this
requires so many interviewing sessions. Therapeutic interview is the one example of the
series of the interview.

Technical Assessment Principles

The information which we are going to collect will be specific and relevant. We have to
collect the information regarding three things
i. Client
ii. Problem
iii. Situation
We will acquire the information regarding client, his personality, strengths and weaknesses,
capabilities and drawback, potentials and flaws. We will find out the actual problem of the
client, but before this we will record the comments of the client his self about his problem.
Finally we will study his environment and find out whether the personality of the client is
responsible for the problem or his environment is disturbing him.

Intervention System
The intervention system is the system in which the interviewer is going to help the
interviewee. It means that the relationship of the interviewer and the interviewee. The
relationship should not be based on personal likes and dislikes. It should rather be developed
positively. There should be no discrimination on any way of life, e.g. religion, cast, class,
country, continent, province etc.

Task implementation
The principle of task implementation means that how and in what ways we should implement
the task. The task implementation should be strategic. We have to look for the resources of
the client. The client always have to types of resource, i.e. primary and secondary. By
primary resources, we mean the inner capabilities, potentials and the courage of the client,

By: Imran Ahmad MA previous evng

Assignment Interviewing in social work

and the secondary resources refers to the environment of the client i.e. his family, friends,
workmates, the agency resources etc.

The dictionary meaning of Technique is
 the procedure, skill, or art used in a particular task
 the way in which the basics of something, are treated

Technique has a bad sound -- cold, mechanical, inhuman, manipulative: applicable to things
but not to people. The word deserves to be rescued, its image refurbished. Techniques are
devices whose application enables us to accomplish our purposes, to carry out our
professional responsibilities. They are clear formulations of what we should do in a given
situation to offer our service effectively and efficiently. So here the techniques in
interviewing means the procedures or the skills used in interviewing or the basics of
interviewing. It also means how to conduct a good interview.

1. Acceptance
The dictionary meaning of acceptance is
• to take something that is offered
• to tolerate something without protesting or attempting to change it

Here in the interviewing the acceptance is essential for

both the interviewer and the interviewee. On the part
of the interviewer, when the interviewer and the
interviewee meet for the first time, there is anxiety in
the interviewee. This anxiety must be taken into
account during interviewing or the progress will be
slow or even impossible. Excessive anxiety on the part
of the interviewer or the interviewee can block the
process of communication. This anxiety can be reduced by the interviewer only by accepting
the interviewee. (Wicks.R.J) No matter how he is. The interviewer has to give respect to the
interviewee, his body language, gestures and welcome all of them should express a feeling of
acceptance. So that the interviewee also feels that the interviewer is considering him as an
important person. He is no vaguer one. The interviewer should give him a warm welcome.

All these techniques will develop a trust and confidence in the interviewee. A rapport will be
established. The information and data received after this technique will be more valid and

2. Observation
Observation is a very important technique not only in interviewing but also in day to day life.

By: Imran Ahmad MA previous evng

Assignment Interviewing in social work

The dictionary meaning of observation is

• to see or to watch something
Observation is a normal part of the life. Every day we observe a lot of the things and events.
While moving from our residence to university, we observe many things on the way. Some of
them we remember but many of them are such things that we forgot them. Human brain has
got three types of observation;
i. Conscious
ii. Subconscious
iii. Unconscious

Conscious observation is the active and knowingly observation of the brain. The active part
of the brain is involved in conscious observation. The important things or events of the life
are very much consciously observed. Subconscious part of the brain is like a store room. A
part of our conscious observation moves from conscious to subconscious part of the brain.
This observation comes back to conscious when needed. Unconscious is the observation
which is unknowingly done by our mind.

The observation in social work interviews has some specific goals behind it which is to solve
the problem of the interviewee or to explore the actual problem. So-observation in social
work interviewing is very much conscious observation. The interviewer has to pay full
attention to the words and expressions of the interviewee. The language that is used often
reveals emotions, as of course do the bodily positions and non-verbal gestures displayed
during interviews. The interviewer has to observe very carefully the verbal and nonverbal
communication of the interviewee. When the interviewee says something verbally, his facial
expression also communicates the real meanings. The
interviewer has to link between the words and expressions of
the interviewee. The interviewee is under stress and has got the
problem. So what the he is saying and what his face, body
language and gestures are communicating, both have balance or
there is difference between them.

Such conscious and careful observation gives the interviewer

the truth and fact. It gives the actual picture of the interviewee.

3. Listening
When beginning a conversation with an interviewee, there are three guiding principles for
framing the conversation: Rapport, Respect, and Relationship. These “Three R’s”
provide valuable perspectives for listening to an interviewee.

Rapport means the ability to talk and listen to an interviewee and make him feel both
understood and important. Respect means valuing the interviewee as a person, and not
snickering about the decisions he has made, no matter how ridiculous, stupid, or naïve these
decisions may appear to be. Relationship means connecting with the interviewee as a fellow
human being.

Listening has got very much importance in any kind of interviewing. The interviewer has to
be a very good listener. Apart form clients who have evident comprehension, hearing or
speech impairment, errors which even the most experienced interviewers make include
anticipating what the other person is going to say or assuming that you have understood the

By: Imran Ahmad MA previous evng

Assignment Interviewing in social work

meaning of the words and non-verbal cues. Such anticipation or stereotyping of the
interviewer can create so many ambiguities and problems. The interviewer has to be very
care full in listening. The interviewee is the person who is under stresses and who has the
problem. The problems are created when the person can’t make decisions. His id becomes
weak and he is unable to make decisions. So he needs an outlet and wants to talk to someone.
When we can’t observe the things, we got the problem. The interviewer should listen to the
client very carefully and give the client an expression of importance. This will develop a
sense of trust and confidence in the interviewee. It will develop a hope for a new and good
life in the interviewee. He will now talk more about his problem and will give more valid and
accurate information.

There are three ways in which the interviewer can express his interest in the interviewee’s
given information

Refection: - this is usually demonstrated by repeating what the person has said. This is not
done merely in parrot fashion, but more as an echo of their thoughts. It acts as a prompt
enabling them to change or clarify the words that they have used and encouraging them to say
more without directing or probing. It is also a clear indicator that you are actively hearing
what the interviewee is saying.

Paraphrase: - if you repeat back what a person has said, perhaps using different words or
joining together two or three things that they have said without changing the meaning, this is
paraphrasing. It is important if summarizing a complicated set of events or feelings that you
do not interpret or evaluate them. It is also necessary to check out with the talker that what
you have paraphrased is accurate.

Feedback: - this is given when you want to indicate that you have heard accurately what
has been said, and that you accept the person, whatever the emotions expressed or
information given. So for example, it is possible to tell a bereaved person that it is alright to
feel angry with the person who has died, if that is the emotions that they have expressed. But
it is always important to check out with the person that you have fed back accurately. (Social work

4. Art of Questioning
The purpose of the interview is to secure the information on which to base the interventive
decision. When the art of questioning an interviewer is mastered, the amount of information
obtained can be impressive. The most basic rule from which all other rules concerning
questioning are derived is the questions should be purposeful. The interviewee is the person
who is under stress and have problem. It is important for the interviewer to use a simple and
easily understandable language. He should ask the simple and direct questions. He should use
the striking questions. The more accurate and easily the client perceive a question the more
valid answer he will give.

Obviously the questions have to be asked to get some information, especially when it has not
been forthcoming in the interview. A general rule for social work is that more information is
gleaned and more learnt about people’s reaction by asking open questions. Open ended
questions are useful especially in the early phase of the interview. (Compton & Galaway) Your
interview will be so dull -- and will give you very little in the way of usable quotes -- if your
interviewee gives you nothing but one-word answers. Avoid these yes/no and true/false type
questions by wording them in such a way as to encourage a longer response. Open questions

By: Imran Ahmad MA previous evng

Assignment Interviewing in social work

are those questions which require the answer more then “yes” or “no”. Questions such as “tell
me more about your self” & “what would you like us to do” are extremely open ended
questions. Or for example the question “Do you have any children?” will elicit the answer yes
or no, the question “How many children do you have?” will get the information about the
number of children, and might also encourage the person to give detail about them. It is often
recommended that the 5WH (Why, What, Who, Where, When and How) are useful in help us
think about open question. For example, ‘what is the problem?’, ‘When did it start?’, ‘Who
could help?’, ‘Where should we aim to sort things?’, ‘How do you think we can help?’
Obviously these would not be asked all at once or in quick succession. (Social work Practice) the
purpose of our interview is to secure reliable and valid information about the client. So-Do
not ask questions which can create bias or make him blunt. For example the question like
“how many times do you take the drink”, this can easily make the interviewee blunt and can
create a situation of bias. The interviewee will reduce cooperation. Hypothetical questions are
very much useful in the interviewing. The questions starting with ‘what if?’ & 'how would
you feel if...' are such questions. For example, what if you left home, what do you thing
would happen?

It's good to have all questions, prepared, ordered and memorized, but an interview is
unpredictable. Don't follow the prepared questions like a script. If the interviewee says
something interesting that prompts follow-up questions, go with it. Follow a new line of
questioning based on the discussion at hand. When you sense that the end of that discussion
is coming, steer the interview back to the prepared questions. Keep in mind, however, that
you might have to do away with some of your questions or you'll risk taking up too much of
your interviewee's time. Re-order your questions in your head and knock off those you can
live without or you'll run out of time and lose the chance to ask the more important questions.
(Paul Chin)

5. Answering the Questions

You're there to interview them so give them the opportunity to speak. The interviewee is
under stress and thus become anxious. The anxiety is automatically developed in them
because of the stress of the problem. They need an outlet. They want to talk about their
problem. So let them speak about their problem as much as they can. Give them the chance to
ask the questions about their problem. It will reveal that how much awareness they have
about their problem.

Now during this initial period of anxiety, the interviewee often ask questions about their
treatment, extent of their problem and etc. the most common question asked on the part of the
interviewee are, how much time you will take to solve my problem?

Use some techniques of relaxation with the interviewee. Then give them the satisfying
answers. Don’t give them false hopes like “definitely your problem will be solved” when it is
impossible within the current resources of the client and agency. Try to build the relationship
on truth.

6. Leadership of Direction
The dictionary meaning of the leader is
 the person who guides or directs others by showing them the way or
telling them how to behave

By: Imran Ahmad MA previous evng

Assignment Interviewing in social work

the interviewer is a skillful person, who has the knowledge of psychology and human
behavior. On the other hand the interviewee is a problematic person and who is under
stresses. There for in the interview the leader’s role must be played by the interviewer rather
then the interviewee. The interviewer must be the guide of the interviewing process. i.e. he
will control the situations and will not allow the interviewee to mislead him or talk about
some irrelevant matters.

One major responsibility of the worker is to provide a focus for the interview. This occurs by
establishing a purpose for the interview very early and focusing the interactions in relation to
the purpose. Focusing the interview does not mean dictating the purpose, nor does it mean to
cutoff the client; it does mean however, jointly establishing with the client a particular
purpose for an interview and fulfilling the responsibility of maintaining that focus.

You need to exude confidence in an interview. You can't expect interviewees to answer your
tougher questions if it looks like you're not comfortable asking them. You need to let the
interviewee know that you're running the interview, not the other way around. If your
interviewee sees that you can be easily intimidated, he or she will end up pushing you around
and will eventually take control of the interview. When this happens, they will start telling
you only what they want you to hear rather than you asking them what you what to know.

7. Interpretation
Once the interview is ended, careful notes about it, together with comments on the
significance of important points, are useful. In this way, data are recorded and decisions
about immediate steps can be made without delay. If the interviewer believes the session
went poorly, recorded data may be reviewed to determine why the interview was

For example, the session might have become difficult at some point because the interviewer
stumbled into a sensitive topic. Or, the interview might have been poor throughout because of
the attitude of the interviewee or the interviewer.

After considering the reason for the session’s unproductiveness, and additional point should
be considered. The interviewer must devise measures or strategies to avoid another
unsatisfying session at a future time. In some cases, unproductivity results form the
interviewer setting goals that are too high, too soon, and it may be overlooked that each new
interviewee is a stranger with his or her own personality differences and attitudes.

8. Closing the Session

The last thing in the interview is its closing. It is more difficult to close an interview then
starting it.

Once the interview has nearly completed its course, workers should close the session without
leaving the interviewee up in the air, without a sense of conclusion. If the situation is one in
which only one interview is scheduled, the interviewee should be permitted final questions
and given prescriptive or referral information that may be appropriate prior to terminating the
session. On the other hand, if the interview is one of the series, in many instances the
patient’s last minute questions may be deferred to a later session.

By: Imran Ahmad MA previous evng

Assignment Interviewing in social work

Anyhow interview may be ended by saying “thanks” or “thank you very much for the

The interviewer should be the master of techniques rather then the obedient servant bound by
rules. Technical skill is no antithetical to spontaneity. In fact, it permits a higher form of
spontaneity; the skilled interviewer can deliberately violate the techniques as the occasion
demands. Technical skill frees the interviewer in responding as fellow human being to the
interviewee. Errors in relation to technique lie with rigid, and therefore inappropriate aware
of a greater variety of alternatives. Awareness and command of technical knowledge also has
another advantage. To know is to prepared; to be prepared is to experience reduced anxiety;
to reduce anxiety is to increase the interviewer’s freedom to be fully responsive to the


1. Khalid. M, “Social Work Theory and Practice” 3rd Edition, Kifayat Academy,
Lahore-Karachi, 2001. pp. 73-155

By: Imran Ahmad MA previous evng

Assignment Interviewing in social work

2. Compton & Galaway, “Social Work Process”, The Dorsey Press, Georgetown-
Ontario, 1975. pp. 192-205
3. Wicks. R.J, “Counselling Strategies & Intervention Techniques for Human
Services”, J.B. Lippincott Company, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1977. pp. 1-13
4. Microsoft ® Encarta ® Reference Library 2005. © 1993-2004 Microsoft
Corporation. All rights reserved.

1. wikipedia the free encyclopedia .

1. Google Image Search

2. Microsoft ® Encarta ® Reference Library 2005. © 1993-2004 Microsoft

Corporation. All rights reserved.

By: Imran Ahmad MA previous evng