Interviewing Techniques for Caseworkers

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The caseworker interview is a necessary part of the duties of social workers and those working in law enforcement. Interviewers must encourage clients to provide information that may be difficult to discuss to a stranger. A caseworker also must interview children about concepts and incidents the child does not truly understand. Taking the interviewee through the process with a planned technique helps the caseworker elicit the needed information.

Opening

The caseworker should spend some time introducing himself to the subject of the interview. The opening dialogue should be friendly and open to establish a rapport with the interviewee. When interviewing children, it can be beneficial to discuss an event in the child’s life such as a recent birthday party to get the discussion going. A caseworker must ensure children understand the difference between truth and lies. Using scenarios can help younger children understand the concept of not telling the truth. Before beginning the interview, the interviewer should discuss the documentation method that will record the meeting, such as a video camera or recorder.

Language

Interviewers must consider the language skills of the client to plan questions. Children will have limited skills, which require the caseworker to use simpler language. The caseworker should involve an interpreter for clients with limited language skills as well. During the interview, the caseworker should demonstrate his is listening to the client. The caseworker can repeat some of the client’s statement to indicate she is listening.

Pictures and Written Communication

The caseworker may encourage children to communicate through drawings and writing. Detailing sensitive information, such as accounts of abuse, is difficult for children. Drawing pictures or writing down the incident can help the child be open to the caseworker.

Closing

Closing the interview provides the caseworker with an opportunity to thank the client for his cooperation. When interviewing a child, thank him for his hard work during the interview and not for the information. The interviewer should provide the client with an opportunity to ask questions about the incident or discussion.

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