Course sections

Module Six: Appreciative Inquiry Interview Style

Appreciative Inquiry Interview Style

Many people associate interviews with fear and anxiety and will immediately break into a sweat when they are called into one. But the Appreciative Inquiry interview style helps to do away with those stereotypes. This type of interview style focuses on positive questions, enjoyable stories, and discovering how the potential employee can make an impact on the company, without using scare tactics or fear. 


Framing Positive Questions 

When we ask questions to the interviewee, what kind of response are we expecting? If we ask questions that can come across as negative or critical, we can expect that kind of answer. But by using positive language to form more positive questions, we can not only put the other person at ease, but they will feel more confident about their abilities and be able to have a better interview. Use positive experiences to help the person realize their own skills and ambitions, while at the same time determining how they would work with the team and the company. 

Example questions:  

  • “What was the best job you’ve had?” 
  • “What do you value most in a job?” 
  • “What do you like best about yourself?” 


Solicit Positive Stories 

If you open an interview describing how the last employee suddenly quit and left a pile of work for everyone else to do, the interviewee does not have a very positive outlook on the company from the start. Instead, open the interview with a positive experience and describe positive events that have happened. When using positive questions, have the interviewee share their positive experiences and personal qualities. When a person can share openly about a happy situation or personal experience, they feel more at ease and are more prone to being positive themselves, which can mean good news for the company as a new employee. 


Finding What Works 

When we interview an employee, we already have an idea of the qualities and skills needed for the position. We know what it takes when working for the company and what qualities should be possessed by the employee. However, there is always more than one way to utilize these skills and put them to good use. The key is to find out what works for the company as well as the employee. Do they work better based on experience? Do they have positive energy to contribute? Do they have a positive outlook? When you find that happy medium between the two, you’ll find a great fit for everyone. 


Recognize the Reoccurring Themes 

When interviewing and sharing stories with someone, recognize the reoccurring themes that each person shares. Look for a pattern in what they have experienced and achieved and what they have in common. Some of the common themes you may hear include commitment, expertise, trust, etc. When you recognize the reoccurring themes, you can decide together which one, or ones, are the most important and which ones you favor the most for the company. With these themes, you can build a plan together because you will know what each of you value and exactly what you will want from the experience. 

Common reoccurring themes in interviews: 

  • Commitment – Seeing a project through to the end 
  • Loyalty – Staying even when the going gets tough 
  • Experience – Valuable on many levels 
  • Cohesion – Teamwork and being a team player 
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