If there is one universally applied technique to be found in behavioural research it is ‘interviewing’. If there is one technique basic to all professional practice it is the interaction between people that is called ‘interviewing’. It is the nature of this interaction between people which is the concern of this chapter. It is to be hoped that what is said can be applied not simply to ‘the interview’ in ‘an interview situation’ but to all purposive contacts between individuals; the critical feature, it is claimed, being the purposive nature of the encounter. The participants bring hopes, fears, expectations, misconceptions and many other cognitions to the situation, most times in the hope that their wishes will be met, fears reduced and so on. Customarily this view is found in the characterization of an interview as a ‘conversation with a purpose’. So it is, but all those participating in an interview have their purposes and not simply, for example, the interviewer. In the complex transactions of getting and giving information we observe effort aimed at achieving purposes. Thus the psychologist testing a client by means of, say, the Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scale is conducting an interview as defined.
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