Interviewing with Linear and Circular questions
To facilitate the transformation from the individual perspective of approaching counseling to thinking about all people in relationship to themselves, to others, and to their context, we have provided a series of learning experiences. The basic tools that all counselors use are questions. In order to find out about clients’ relationships and the patterns they have developed in these relationships, the family counselor asks questions that are most likely unfamiliar to you. The interview project is intended to provide you with practice asking linear questions, which elicit information about the individual, and circular questions, which elicit information about relationships. The instructor will pair you with another learner and you will conduct interviews with each other. The topic of the interview should focus on what your interviewee feels is meaningful in his or her life.
There are four basic components to the project:
Meeting your interviewee. Your instructor will pair you up and post the pairings by the end of week 1. “My interviewee name is Yesenia Quezada” She is a female.
Developing interview questions.
Conducting an interview and transcribing and annotating your half. You will use the Interview Project Template to complete this section and the reflection section of your paper.
Completing an interview reflection paper.
Meet Your Interviewee – Start by arranging to meet with your peer interviewee on the telephone, prior to the interview, or E-mail and ask what area of life he or she would like you to focus on in the interview. Please use the courseroom emails or chat section to exchange information and arrange a time to work on the phone together. This will keep confidentiality within our courseroom and provide an opportunity to get to know someone in your program a little better.
After your initial discussion, you can each develop the linear and circular questions relative to your interviewee’s topic. Plan the interview time early in the course, so that you will have time to develop your questions, schedule and conduct the interview, and compose your paper for submission in Unit 6.
Develop Interview Questions
Develop a list of questions to ask about what your interviewee sees as meaningful in his or her life. You might ask the interviewee about his or her work and career, hobbies and activities, family and relationships, or any other appropriate and relevant topics.
As you develop your interview questions, distinguish between those based on a linear, or individual-based, framework and those based on a systemic, or postmodern, framework. Include 6–8 questions in each category in your interview. Note that you will be submitting your questions as part of the assignment. You will also be asked to include a brief rationale for your choice of each question. During the interview, begin with a set of questions based on a linear perspective. Then, ask a set of follow-up questions based on a systemic perspective.
When asking the linear questions, take the stance of an observer, this means you view and present yourself as separate—or outside of—the interview process.
The following are examples of linear questions:
What are some important values and beliefs that you hold about yourself and about life?
When did you develop these beliefs?
Why are these values important to you?
When asking the systemic questions, take the stance of an observer-participant. This means you are aware of how your questions are influencing the interviewee. You present yourself as a part of the interview process. You can include circular questions in your list of systemic questions.
The following are examples of systemic questions:
Who has most influenced the development of your values and beliefs?
In what ways did this person (or these people) influence you?
Who do you know with values that are similar to yours? Who might have different values?
Conduct the Interview
Complete the interview, using the linear and systemic questions you developed. Conduct the interview from a curious stance. Record your half of the telephone interview. Transcribe your half, and annotate for what type of questions you used, and how you could have improved each question. Improvement would include such actions as turning closed questions into open ones, turning open questions into relational questions, or turning relational questions into circular questions.
Complete the Reflection Paper
Questions for the Interview
Provide the set of interview questions that you developed. Explain your rationale for the choice of each question. Include all 12–16 questions, 6–8 questions based on an individual linear perspective, and 6–8 questions based on a systemic perspective.
Write a 5-6 page paper reflecting on the interview process and experience. The 5–6 pages do not include the title page, reference list, or interview transcription. Articulate the themes and content that emerged with each set of questions you asked, that is linear and systemic. Compare and contrast the themes and content that emerged from both types of questions.
Reflect on your role in the interview process by responding to the following questions:
How was taking a stance as an observer for the linear questions different from taking the stance of an observer-participant for the systemic questions?
How did each approach, that is the two different sets of questions, influence the kind of relationship you developed with the interviewee? What other differences did you notice resulting from each approach?
Were you aware of the influence of multicultural or diversity issues regarding race, gender, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, or other considerations?
Assess your ability to be curious. How did the curious stance influence the interview?
Reflect on any question that triggered an awareness of any bias, judgment, or inability to remain focused and engaged in useful conversation.
Describe how you would know when you have reached a limit that requires supervision or a referral.
Describe what you did in the interview that you liked, and what you would like to have done differently.
Comment on what you learned through this project about yourself and the counseling profession. How might your experience with this project inform your professional work?