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A conversation between two or more people where questions are asked by the interviewer to elicit facts or statements from the interviewee ( Wikipedia)

Purpose & Benefits

Interviews are important in helping to understand and capture knowledge associated with an expert’s role. Interviews are not the best method of capturing tacit knowledge or validating knowledge but they provide an important starting point to allow other techniques to be used later.


Interviews can be combined with workshops to establish need, purpose and commitment from a group of experts. Interviews are usually recorded. Audio recording is the usual method, which is then converted into a document transcript. The duration of interviews can be long (in total these can extend to several man-days duration) depending on the subject matter expert under review and the extent of knowledge to be captured.

The interview requires a considerable amount of pre-planning and works well when a bespoke set of questions are pre-determined. Basic interviews can be combined with other specialist interview techniques such as the critical decision method (CDM), popular with the US military, which focuses on non-routine incidents and the decision making processes of the experts at the


There are three main types of interview technique:

  • Unstructured interviews have an outline agenda but no pre-defined questions or structure;
  • Semi-structured interviews (the most commonly used) have a structured agenda with the flexibility to ask additional questions following an answer;
  • Structured interviews; these allow no flexibility; all questions are established in advance.

Implementation Guide

See knowledge elicitation interview for details on the technique implementation.

Success Factors

Common Pitfalls

Related articles

Exit interview


After action review

Action review