We talked three weeks ago about the need for active listening, the lack being one of the stumbling blocks to effective interviews.  We must hone those active listening skills. Then I addressed critical thinking last week but wanted to address critical thinking’s extreme importance to interview planning. Next week we will look at another area inextricably connected to critical thinking which is ensuring understanding.  All of these take dedication, practice, and effort.  If you believe others should be on this list, please let me know.  In the meantime, let’s start thinking critically and see how it is inextricably connected to interview planning.  Are you ready?

In a time where limitless information is just a click away, how can you know what’s real and what’s not?  The onslaught of information and stimuli is absolutely overwhelming at times and comes from a myriad of sources.  As a result, we skim along the surface and don’t invest in deep listening or critical thinking at the levels we have historically.

As you can imagine, in the dynamic of interviewing, critical thinking is imperative. However, as attention spans shorten, and the need for immediate gratification increases, some of the skills essential to eliciting the greatest quality and quantity of information are waning.  We want results and need them quickly with little effort, but do we have the necessary skills to elicit them.

However, regardless of these current demands there is a skill set required to succeed.  What are those necessary skills?  Well, the ability to sit and have a conversation, quality questioning, active listening, ability to adjust and adapt, ensuring understanding, are just some, and each has an inextricable connection to critical thinking, and therefore planning. 

Many desire interview training that says if you complete these steps, you will have all that you need for success.  Or they want to see videos that they can copy and mimic.  However, the process is so much more complex and unique to the parties that are present and the issues at hand.  These require understanding and critical thinking.

Critical thinking is essential to analyze the intersection between the asker and answerer of questions. Their personal dynamics, their bias, their experience. We must seek to understand all of those.  Often, we look for confirmation of our own beliefs, the easiest and fastest way out; this, however, is not critical thinking.  Employing the Socratic Method takes time, effort, understanding, and reason. Critical thinking is the only application to maximize obtaining “the truth” from an interview.

Critical thinking is crucial when it comes to planning interviews because it helps to ensure that the interview is well-structured, relevant, and effective in achieving its goals. Here are some specific reasons why critical thinking is so important in this context:

  1. Defining the interview’s purpose: Critical thinking is necessary to define the purpose of the interview and identify the questions that will help achieve that purpose. It involves analyzing the goals, objectives, and expectations of the interview, and selecting the right questions to gather the relevant information.
  2. Identifying relevant questions: Critical thinking helps to identify the most important and relevant questions to ask during the interview, as well as how to ask them. It enables the interviewer to anticipate and consider the different perspectives, opinions, and experiences of the interviewee and choose questions that will elicit the maximum amount of truthful information.
  3. Analyzing responses: Critical thinking helps to evaluate the interviewee’s responses and identify any discrepancies, inconsistencies, or gaps in the information provided. It enables the interviewer to probe further and ask follow-up questions to clarify and validate the interviewee’s statements.  Obviously, active listening is paramount for making this happen.
  4. Making informed decisions: Critical thinking enables the interviewer to make informed decisions based on the information gathered during the interview. It involves analyzing the data, synthesizing the information, and drawing logical conclusions that will inform the adjudication process or other decision-making processes.

Overall, critical thinking is crucial when it comes to planning interviews because it ensures that the interview is well-prepared, organized, and effective in gathering the information needed to make informed decisions. It enables the interviewer to ask the right questions, evaluate the responses, and make informed decisions based on the data gathered during the interview.

Critical thinking must also be applied in the interview to ensure a complete understanding of the interviewee. In fact, critical thinking is one of the most essential skills for conducting effective investigative interviews. Here are some of the reasons that we must employ these skills:

  1. Understanding the interviewee’s perspective: Critical thinking enables the interviewer to put themselves in the interviewee’s shoes and understand their perspective. This involves analyzing the interviewee’s background, beliefs, motivations, and other factors that may influence their behavior and responses during the interview.
  2. Evaluating credibility: Critical thinking helps the interviewer to evaluate the credibility of the interviewee’s statements. It involves analyzing the consistency and plausibility of the interviewee’s responses and identifying any inconsistencies, omissions, or contradictions that may indicate deception or untruthfulness.
  3. Asking effective questions: Critical thinking enables the interviewer to ask effective questions that are relevant, specific, appropriately formatted, and targeted to gather the information needed for the investigation. It involves anticipating the interviewee’s possible responses, and framing the questions in a way that encourages the interviewee to provide more detailed and accurate information.
  4. Analyzing responses: Critical thinking helps the interviewer to analyze the interviewee’s responses in real-time and to adjust their questioning strategies accordingly. It involves identifying patterns, contradictions, or inconsistencies in the interviewee’s responses and using this information to probe further and ask follow-up questions.

Critical thinking is essential for understanding the interviewee in investigative interviews. It enables the interviewer to ask effective questions, analyze the interviewee’s responses, and evaluate their credibility, all of which are critical for maximizing the quality and quantity of truthful information obtained.

I recently completed an article on adversity and resistance. I address the multitude of people that are frustrated with those issues precarious presence in our lives and are outraged by the toll they take, but the reality is adversity and resistance will always be with us.  They are a constant.  The question is how we handle them, and critical thinking allows us to maximize our response, and ultimately builds lasting character.

Critical thinking is crucial to success in most areas of life. If you’re not able to question and reflect on your own ideas or other data presented to you, then you’re going to have a tough time in life. People who have the ability to use logic and reasoning are far less likely to make mistakes and are more likely to be able to solve problems effectively.  

Critical thinking is relevant to succeeding in work, living, and relationships. But, more than that, it allows us to make reasoned decisions about everything around us, from what we see in the media to politics to ethics. Instead of blindly following our own or others’ dogma, we can see more clearly when we think critically.

In interviewing, critical thinking is necessary in so many areas, especially planning, both before the interview, and strategizing during the interaction.  As with most skills in interviewing they have a place in every aspect of your lives.

Anderson Investigative Associates is positioned to custom tailor training to your specific needs.  If you have any questions or would like to discuss the above or any training need, please reach out to me.  Additional issues pertaining to interviewing and investigations can be found in other blogs that I have written and are contained in most blocks of instruction that our company presents.

If you have additional questions, comments, or have an interviewing topic you would like me to address, give me a shout.  In the meantime, be well and stay safe out there.

Mark A. Anderson

Director of Training and Development

Anderson Investigative Associates, llc

114 Loucks Avenue

Scottdale, PA 15683