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Exercise needed to practice probing skills


I'm running a market research training course for medical interviewers and one section will focus on 'probing skills' - i.e. following up on respondent's responses, to get more spontaneous comment. In the past I have provided example responses and asked respondents to discuss what they could say / ask / do next to encourage more information. This time around I would like to use a more practical exercise, getting them to work on finding something out about the other person, using good probing skills - any ideas??
Emma Newman

4 Responses

  1. Role-Play
    You could always use a role play exercise? were the interviewee is given a brief of other issues that they should only disclose if the apporiate probing questions are asked?? I have just successfully used role play in the recruitment of mortgage sales advisors. If you would like a copy to see our approach please email me

  2. Fact Finding Exercise
    One option is use some fact finding exercises. Write up a short case(s) giving the information surrounding the situation, say a couple of pages of info. One participant then acts as the interviewee and another as interviewer. The interviewee is not role playing, he/she is there to provide information in response to questions (not to volunteer it). The interviewer is given a very short brief along the lines of “you are xyz specialist and have been asked to look into this situation and make a recommendation”. He/she then has 5 mins to prepare some questions, 15 mins to ask questions (prepared and others)of the interviewee, 10 mins to prepare decision and 5 mins to present answer with recommendations. The interviewee can then ask standard questions about why that decision was reached for about 5 mins. You can do this as a fish bowl exercise or in threes with one person acting as observer.

    Another fun option is to use some lateral thinking problem solving exercises where you can only answer ‘yes’ or ‘no’ for the group to get the answer.

    Hope this helps.

  3. Questioning Skills Exercise
    I used to do a fun exercise in recruitment interviewing workshops that involved interviews to find suitable candidates to play Gozzo the loveable bear at a theme park. Delegates work in groups of three to ‘role play’ the scenario and practice the funneling questioning technique. Great fun with the right audience. Please find a full copy of the exercise at – Free Resources section – Management Skills.
    Best of luck
    Happy Days!
    Bryan Edwards

  4. activity
    I was recently introduced to a great fun exercise which may be good in your situation? Try being the patient and all your delegates are doctors and they have to find out what is wrong with you by asking refocusing and probing questions. If you email me I can give you the finer details if you feel it suits your need?


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