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5 Effective Interview Techniques You’ll Learn in CSW Courses

March 23, 2016

Psychiatrist and oppressed woman patient

During your community services worker (CSW) program, you’ll receive the practical and hands-on knowledge you need to succeed in the field. Your CSW courses will teach you all about crisis intervention, addictions and mental health, case management and much more. However, a very important part of your role as a counsellor will include interviewing clients in order to gather information and establish relationships with them. That’s why you’ll also learn about some of the most effective interview techniques.

Counselling professionals know that an ‘interview’ refers to a meeting or session with a client. And a few interview techniques include how a counsellor carries themselves, asks questions, and guides discussions.

If you’re planning to become a CSW, read on for a closer look at five useful interview techniques you’ll learn in your training.

1. CSW Training Will Teach You to Use Open-Ended Questions

In order to build a rapport with your clients, you’ll need to ask a lot of questions. However, during your CSW training, you’ll learn that how you ask a question can determine the depth of a client’s answer. While closed-ended questions like “did you have a good week?” typically evoke simple yes or no answers, open-ended questions will encourage clients to reflect and provide longer responses as well as more information. For instance, you might instead say “tell me about your week”—this will elicit a far more meaningful response than discovering whether or not their week was good.

2. Probing Questions Will Help You Delve Deeper with Clients

Once you begin interviewing clients, you’ll find that the use of probing questions is helpful in situations where you want to encourage them to dig a little deeper and share more information. A probing question can help clients look closely at a particular situation, feeling or behaviour, which is a helpful part of creating positive change. A classic example of a probing question is “how did that make you feel?” Other examples include “could you tell me more about that particular situation?” and “what do you mean by that?”

3. You’ll Learn Active Listening Skills in Your CSW Courses

One of the most effective interview techniques you’ll learn in your CSW courses is active listening. Active listening refers to listening and responding to your clients in a way that builds mutual understanding. Your body language, for example, reflects the amount of attention you’re giving when a client is speaking. It’s important to remain in a relaxed position and to be conscious of your facial expressions at all times.

For example, if a client is sharing a very emotional experience and you’re staring at them with wide eyes, they might feel judged. On the other hand, nodding at appropriate times is a non-verbal cue that will show them you’re paying attention and encourage them to continue.

4. CSW Training Will Teach You to Rephrase and Use Verbal Cues

Verbalization also plays a key role in counselling. During your training, you’ll learn to maintain a calm voice and give small verbal cues, such as saying ‘yes’ when a  client is explaining something. Trained experts know that this can help encourage them to share more.

Rephrasing is also a great way to ensure your client feels heard and to get a better understanding of what they are saying. When a client is finished sharing, try summarizing what they said to make sure you’re on the same page.

5. You’ll Master the Art of Successfully Ending an Interview

Clients rarely check the time during sessions, so there’s a chance that they could be in the midst of sharing when an interview has reached its end. It’s important to remember that no one likes being interrupted, especially when discussing something emotional. That’s why you’ll need to find ways to end your interviews very carefully once you start your career.

One way you can accomplish this is to tell your clients how much time is left in an interview approximately 5 to 10 minutes before it ends. This way, the remainder of the interview can be used to review what has been discussed, set goals for the coming week, or to ask clients if they have anything else they’d like to discuss.

Want to learn more about effective interview techniques by enrolling in a community services worker college?

Visit NAHB for program details or to speak with an advisor. 

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