In the poll question, one of the options was “technical writing and interview skills.” Today we will discuss interviewing skills, though (in my typical fashion) will broaden the concept.
Interviewing skills is a subset of a larger category we can call “information gathering.” Certainly, the ability to gather information is a non-negotiable requirement of a good technical/procedure writer. So what makes a procedure writer a capable gatherer of information?
One of the keys to effective information gathering is organization. With an organized approach, the information gathering can be reduced to manageable segments. The “bites” correspond to particular elements of the procedure (setup, operation, controls, etc.). By knowing exactly what information you intend to capture at any time, you will be more effective at gathering the information. And if the gathering process involves talking to (interviewing) process principals, the interview will be crisper, more focused and (the procedure principal will thank you for this) take less time.
The greatest benefit of an organized information gathering approach is the boost it will give to your credibility. If colleagues know you will be quick and efficient in the use of their time (including knowing how to gather information without having to take up someone else’s time), they will be more helpful when you need their input.
Suffice to say, the ability to gather information in an organized manner is essential to effective procedure writing. To the degree that includes interviewing people, the ability to conduct a good (read, brief) interview is a great asset.