“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”-Benjamin Franklin
In claims adjusting, active listening is the key to successfully investigating the claim. Part of that investigation is an interview of all parties to the claim. People love to tell their story and the best approach is to let them. Ask open-ended questions and be prepared to build follow up questions based off their answers. Silence is not the enemy, give the interviewee time to formulate their response. If they truly are struggling, offer to restate or clarify the question if needed. Finally, always repeat back to the interviewee their response restated in your own words.
Active listening is not the only key to a successful interview. The need for preparation cannot be understated. The interviewer should prepare an outline of questions that will allow them to secure the information they need from the interviewee. Let the person answer the questions in their own way, but make sure you get the answers you need. In claims, this means understanding the facts of the loss and the extent of the damages. For an instructional designer that will mean the nature of the project and desired outcomes, from the client. From the SME it will mean what knowledge and methods do we need to achieve those goals.
Interviewing and active listening are something I am very familiar with and if I can leave anyone with any advice based on my twenty five years in the insurance industry it is this:
You would not start a trip without a map to the desired destination so do not go into an interview without a map of questions that will allow you to reach your desired outcome.