As noted in the syllabus, one of the important class requirements is the Interview Project. You can learn more about our topic and gain skill in interviewing and then analyzing and writing up results. This also is an opportunity to work with and learn from classmates as you share experiences in your own series of interviews with each other. There are many topics to explore including those we have covered in the early part of our course or looking ahead to others that are coming up. There also may be things you have experienced that may be of particular interest.
The interview -
Two parts - For this assignment you will arrange to interview someone with experience, a manager with whom you have worked or someone you would like to meet. Most people are willing to "give back" and take the time to respond to your questions. Of course, it is important to be well prepared and be effective in the use of their time.
Another important part of this project is working with classmates in developing questions for the interviews, reporting results and then summarizing them for other groups. Everyone's experiences are good resources. And just as you will be interviewing a manager, your group will also talk in depth with each other
In the interview, you want to learn about your interviewees' backgrounds and how they have managed their own professional development as well as thoughts about workplace issues. And, along with talking about successes it also is useful to talk about challenging (stretch/ "failure") situations. (Problems do happen and we learn from those.)
Think of this project as a very good opportunity to learn. Interviews have been held with direct supervisors, as well as top managers in both public and not for profit organizations in a variety of fields and industries. This assignment also can be a very good way for you to work on your own development planning and, yes, networking. From feedback I have received, this can be a very important assignment if you use it well. Perhaps the "different" part is talking with each other about the issues. But whatever your experience level, you have experienced things that have connections to our work.
First step is identifying the person whom you would like to interview, make contact and explain the purpose and request time. Do not wait until close to the date of submission of your paper.
Preparing your questions in advance is important. It is more useful to ask application oriented questions rather than just asking about the concept itself. For example, "what do you think motivates your employees?" or "what causes stress for you or those with whom you work?" And then analyze the responses in terms of course materials. Open-ended questions that ask for a more detailed response rather than a simple yes/no are best. Be willing, too, to follow the direction in which your interviewee may go and things he or she thinks important. Note: similar questions can be asked of group members, e.g., what motivates you or people with whom you work? (Read back over the early discussion for ideas about issues we have already raised.)
Because every situation may vary, there is no single set list of questions to ask about these issues although there will some common questions for everyone, including questions of ethical challenges. And you can add additional ones to cover other areas even if we have not yet covered them. From our early work, issues of managing employee performance and commitment along with satisfaction and motivation are useful topics to explore.
Through our continuing discussions, we will discuss topics of interest and also develop some guidelines that may be helpful for us all. (weeks 3 and 4)
Logistics of Timing and Access -
Schedule "adequate" time with each person to explore the topic. In some cases, this may be an informal chat over coffee; in others, a much more structured environment with questions submitted in advance. Whatever the format, careful preparation to take advantage of the opportunity is important. Some classmates have said they were reluctant to request interviews and have been surprised by how willing people are to be interviewed. And in the small group sharing/interviews, take the time to schedule now you will connect with each other. Note: each small group has its own meeting space, blog, etc.
The first part (posted for your group and due in week four) will be some information about the individual, including who they are, why you chose them, their current position, company, etc. Classmates will share ideas about logistics and also develop sample questions and topics to cover.
In part two, the formal write-up will include:
1) the information about the person's background along with
2) a summary both of what you asked and their responses.
3) describing in what ways specific concepts from the text and other course materials can be applied. (both the theory and the practice)
4) reflections on what you have learned from these interviews and on
5) how you can apply all this to your own experiences as well as to the materials we are discussing in our work.