3.1.1 The Interview: Setting and Style

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Most people being interviewed for a repertory grid find themselves working

quite hard. Your job is to put them to work in a user-friendly way, helping

them to concentrate without pain or drudgery.

Since the procedure is, in one sense, repetitive, it’s important to remember that

you’re involved in an interview, and that the interview is a social process.

You’re in a situation in which you need to draw on the substantial social and

conversational skills which you possess, in order to arrive at a good

3.1 Grid Elicitation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22

3.2 The Background to the Standard Procedure . . . . . . . . . . . . 27

3.3 Thinking About Yourself . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37

Things to Do. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37

Things to Read . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39

understanding of the meaning the interviewee wishes to convey. The

procedure outlined below consists of some rather dry, and bare, bones. It

will be your responsibility to flesh them out.

This means, firstly, that the usual rules in interviewing apply:

. a quiet room

. guaranteed freedom from disturbance for an hour or so

. the phone off the hook

. a relaxed atmosphere, perhaps fuelled by a cup of tea or coffee

. most usefully, a table for you both to sit at, side by side or at the corner of

one end, with good elbow room available for both of you.

Secondly, there is the issue of organisational and personal ‘entry’. This guide

treats grid technique in isolation. But in most situations you’ll be doing a grid

interview for some reason, as part of a research project perhaps, or maybe as a

component in a training course, organisation development (OD) intervention,

and the like, and your interviewees will come to you with expectations about

their reason for being there, and of your role in a wider process.

Basically, the usual rules of research/intervention procedure, etiquette, and,

indeed, ethics apply. Among these, perhaps the most important are as follows.

. Explain why you’re both there.

. Check that this reason is understood by the interviewee.

. Provide a thumbnail description of the grid in the following terms.

– It’s a structured interview (the idea of being interviewed is familiar to

everyone).

– You’re trying to understand the interviewee in his or her own terms, and

not to collect ‘right answers’ (which expresses the most important part of

the whole social encounter).

– The way you go about it makes for great precision, but the interviewee

can choose how much detail to go into (which provides reassurance).

– You’ll be asking the interviewee to make a series of systematic

comparisons (which provides the lead-in and helps to get you started).

. State the conditions of confidentiality (and, where applicable, anonymity)

which apply, explaining how, exactly, you intend to preserve both.

. Check that these are acceptable to the interviewee.

Prepare a blank grid sheet, like the one shown as Figure 3.1. You will be filling

in the details, as you’re told them by the interviewee during the course of the

interview. You will write:

. the topic into the top left corner

. the elements along the diagonal lines at the top

. the left pole and right pole of each construct on either side of the grid,

working downwards row by row

. the ratings inside the grid, also row by row, construct by construct.

Show the sheet now and again to the interviewee if you wish: there’s nothing

there that isn’t his/hers! You might like to have a set of 5@63@ (127_76mm)

file cards to hand.