You are looking for three main things:
1. Adequate recall of significant material – that is, information crucial to the decision and not just peripheral noise.
2. Evidence of that being put together to form the bigger picture – the interviewee does not just list elements but links them together, conceptually.
3. Evidence that the interviewee knows what crucial terms and ideas actually mean. Being able to say that you will be having a cataract operation is not the same as understanding what that means – someone will be doing things to your eye and you may well be awake!
If you have asked the right questions in the right way, given time, and probed where probes were needed, you have everything you need to decide and your decision is likely to be better than it would have been using any other method. You will also be able to ‘show your working’, as it were, which we know from experience is invaluable should Court proceedings be involved. Opinion based on evidence is superior to opinion based on theory.
The next page will show you how to ask the questions the right way.
Download a PDF of this page: Making your judgment