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Interviewing Tips for Non-Profit Organizations: Re-phrasing

Many questionnaires or surveys may provide neutral re-phrasing options for you.  If those are available, your job as an interviewer is easier.  If not, as you prepare for the conversation with the client, be thinking of ways to rephrase questions in a neutral way if the person you are talking with needs assistance. Oftentimes simply changing one or two words will trigger understanding for the client.

 For our purposes, effective re-phrasing is neutral, that is, it maintains the intent of the question.  Ineffective re-phrasing, on the other hand, leads the client to an answer or changes the meaning of the question.

 When re-phrasing questions, it is critical that the intent of the question is not changed.  For example, if a question asks the client “How do you feel about living in your home?”   If an interviewer were to re-phrase this question to “How do you like where you live?” the intent of the question is changed, since “where you live” could imply the house, neighborhood or city to the client.  Instead, for re-phrasing options, “how do you feel” can become “are you happy or unhappy” and “living in your home” can become “living in your house”.

 In addition to maintaining the intent of the question, it is critical to refrain from re-phrasing the question in a manner which “leads” the client to a response, even if it is the response the interviewer thinks the client might give.  “Leading” a client would be re-phrasing “How do you feel about living in your home?” to “You like living in your home, don’t you?”  While it may be easier to have the client simply agree you, it may be less honest and less accurate.  This type of conversation is not about what the interviewer thinks the client feels, this is a client conversation – what the client thinks and feels.

Posted in Client Satisfaction, Market Research, Organizational Change, Program Evaluation, Quality Improvement.

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