Interview Practice: Dealing with Challenges (Part 2)


  • To prepare to conduct interviews
  • To practice interviewing


  • “Rating Sheet for Interviews” handout (1 per participant)
  • Reflection Sheet
  • List of interview questions
  • Reflection questions
  • List of types of difficult people
  • Paper for taking notes

Prepare Before


Warm Up

As a group, develop a list of guidelines that you will use for interviewing. You may use this or add to the list generated in the previous Interview Lesson.

Note: for the next session, have copies of this list for everyone to keep.


Today we are practicing the actual interview. Hand out the interview questions. Remind the group that these are a guide and that each interviewee may not have a lot to say on each question.

Because we are interviewing people, not robots, they might respond or not respond in different ways.   As an interviewer, you need to be able to respond to whatever situation they present.

Ask for volunteers to come up and ask some of the interview questions.   As each person interviews you, respond by acting in one of the following typical interviewee situations:

  • Is Shy or Gives Short Answers
  • Seems Bored
  • Gives Long-Winded Answers
  • Asks the Interviewer Personal Questions
  • Goes Off on Tangents
  • People Pleaser (says what they think the interviewer wants to hear or thinks there are right or wrong answers)
  • Is Distracted (by phone, by others in room, by thoughts)
  • Seems Nervous/Anxious

After each situation happens, ask process questions and as a group develop a list of situations and ways to deal with it.


After each situation:

  • What is the interviewee doing?
  • What did the interviewer try to do?  How helpful was it?
  • What could we try as an interviewer?
  • Is there anything we could change about the environment? Our non-verbals?  What we say or how we say it?

Use what everyone says to create 3-4 solutions for each potential problem.


If an interview is going well, it will feel like a conversation.  Your presence will set the tone for the interviewee for how you want them to be.  These are all tools you can use if your interview starts to feel difficult.


Get the class into pairs to interview each other.  Everyone should have their interview sheet and if they are taking notes, paper for taking notes.

Recommendation:  it is probably best if you record interviews AND take notes.  Notes will then be a sort of “map” that shows the outline of the interview.  It could even just be the interview questions with key words underneath each question.

Each pair will have 7 minutes to interview.   In the first half of the interview, the Interviewee should be well-behaved, and answer as you normally would.   In the second half, pick one of the problem behaviors (without telling the Interviewer) so that they can practice.   If they “solve” your problem, pick another one until time is called.

After the interview, give 5 minutes for feedback, using the feedback guide.

After each pair has gone, do a debrief with the group with the following reflection questions:

  • Using the thumbs-up, thumbs-down scale, how good are you at interviewing?
  • What was hard about it?
  • What was easy?
  • What do you want more practice at?

Use their answers to determine if they need more practice at this stage in dealing with problems.   The next lesson is a full practice session, so they will have other opportunities to practice.


Pick some of the problems and ask for a strategy to solve it.