Principles for Interviews Before Collaborative Meetings

There will be different types of people from all sides participating in the collaborative meeting at the same time. In order to save time where the participants clarify each other’s ideas, the host team will make a manual listing the topics of discussion and send it to all of the participants seven days in advance, allowing them to read it before the meeting. Interviews will be conducted with stakeholders from all sides in advance and these will be neutrally and accurately recorded in detail in the topic manual, in order to allow the topic manual to contain as many diverse viewpoints as possible. However, its nature is not a real law. It is a working document that records the common experience. It is expected that users will continue to provide feedback during the practice verification to adjustment.

Instructions for the division of labor

  1. The department will be responsible for all aspects of dividing up the work of the discussion topics at the collaborative meeting, and the department will invite a stakeholder to be interviewed for each topic.

  2. The department responsible for inviting stakeholders will be the main interviewer for that interview. Other departments with the same discussion topics can voluntarily register or can become a co-attending unit according to the requirements of the main interview unit. PDIS will view the necessity of each case and decide on the degree of their participation.

  3. After the interview, the department will send the records to PDIS, which will collate the records. PDIS will produce the first draft of the topic manual 10 days before the collaboration meeting, which will be supplemented and confirmed by each department. The topic manual will be sent to all of the participants seven days before the collaborative meeting and will be published along with the verbatim interview transcripts after the meeting.

  4. If one of the main or assisting departments has not held an interview before, they can ask a PDIS colleague to demonstrate by serving as the main interviewer for one of the interviews, but the rest of the work for the interviews (such as records, making appointments for interviews, writing interview outlines) must be completed by the main host interviewer unit.

  5. The interviews will use a two-tier method in order to obtain more diverse and complete viewpoints. The first tier will be the list of interviewees provided by each department, which will be supplemented by PDIS. The second tier will be the list of people recommended by interviewees from the first tier, in the spirit of promoting diversity of ideas, but the departments can decide for themselves whether or not to interview them. The interviewees from the first and second tiers will be added to the list of invited participants for the collaborative meeting.

Tasks for the main interviewer unit:

1. Decide who will be interviewed

The interviewees should cover all of the following aspects:

  • Supporters of the proposal/those who oppose the suggestions of the proposer, or experts, scholars, and opinion leaders who have other stances on the matter/a member of an interested for for-profit or non-profit organization/people with firsthand experience of the matter/members of government agencies,

If interviewees are members of government agencies/or representatives of organizations. If they uphold the collaborative meeting’s core ideal of “diversification and explanation of ideas”, interviewees are invited to fully share their ideas no matter whether these are “suggestions from the government/an organization’s position” or “suggestions from an individual interviewee”.

2. Making appointments for interviews

There are no specific suggestions for time and place, but departments can discuss borrowing the PDIS venue if necessary. They must provide an outline of the interview, a brief introduction of the proposal, and a summary of the collaborative meeting in advance.

The form of the interviews will be as follows:

  • Face-to-face interview: At a place agreed with the interviewee will suffice.
  • Telephone interview: At a time agreed with all parties will suffice.
  • Written interview: We do not recommend using this method for first tier interviewees.

3. Writing the interview outline

After the interview outline has been written it must be sent to PDIS, and must be sent out as an attachment to the interview appointment notice by the main interviewer unit. It is recommended that there are at least five or more open-ended questions including, but not limited to, the following:

  1. Provide an opinion which is in agreement or disagreement with the proposer’s suggestion, as well as other ideas

Example: “The demands of the proposer and seconder to levy a tax on empty houses are supposed to carry out so-called ‘residential justice’, and requires the government to raise the ‘holding costs’ of housing. Do you think increasing the holding costs of housing can effectively keep down house prices, or not? Why?”

  1. For suggestions that are collected in advance, put forward opinions, suggest some risks and question whether or not these plans are feasible.

Example: “Most of the seconders proposed progressive tax rates based on the number of households held (not limited to empty houses), or the number of days a property is held unused etc., is this proposal feasible? Please share your views.”

  1. Provide your own views on the questions behind the proposal.

Example: “The proposer and seconder’s demand to levy a tax on empty houses is supposed to carry out so-called ‘residential justice’, and requires the government to raise the ‘holding costs’ of houses. Apart from increasing holding costs, do you think that there are any other effective methods or government measures that could help to keep house prices down or carry out residential justice?”

  1. Provide suggestions to the interviewee, including the arguments of scholars/groups/individuals in support of or in opposition to the proposal.

4. Staff in attendance

  1. There should be at least one colleague from the business unit in attendance:
    • They must verify the direction of the interview and write the interview outline. They must also confirm any relevant facts and the overall context during the interview.
  2. There should be at least one PO from each department or a Level Three government official PO in attendance:
    • They must accumulate relevant experience from the interview and understand the topic of discussion.
  3. A PDIS colleague can serve as the interviewer for the first interview when required by the department.
    • PDIS is not required to attend any follow-up interviews (but can provide assistance when necessary).

5. Recording the interviews

  1. The contents of the statements made by the interviewer and interviewee must be recorded in as much detail as possible:
  2. The records of the interview should be sent to PDIS within three days after the date of the interview.

Sequence of interviews

  1. Explain “Why do we need this interview?”:
    • Summarize the content of the proposal.
      • State the headline of the proposal, the methods advocated for by the proposer, and the estimated date and time of the collaborative meeting.
    • Summarize the collaborative meeting.
  2. Explain the principles of the interview process and recording:
    • The interview process will be recorded, with the written records serving as the main version. There will also be an audio recording of the interview if the participants agree.
    • The interview records are for internal reference and will be consolidated into a topic manual..
    • Before the topic manual is sent out, it will be given to the interviewees to confirm the accuracy of its content.
  3. Proceed with interviews according to, but not limited to, the content of the interview outline.
  4. Inquire as to whether or not they have any other items that they wish to add.
  5. Inquire as to whether or not they have any interviewees to recommend.

Reminders for the interview process:

1. The purpose of the interview is to gather more information and is not to explain the government’s stance.The interview process can generally be divided into: listening, clarification, and explanation. During the interview process, there will often be interviewees who do not understand government policies, division of labor, or legislation. It is recommended that you first listen until they are finished, and then continue by clarifying why the interviewee thinks in such a way, until the discussion ends or there is no way to continue, and only then should you enter into the explanation stage.

For example: The interviewee believes that levying a tax on empty houses can effectively keep house prices down because an empty house tax would raise the holding costs of empty houses. As a result of this, investors would want to sell the houses as quickly as possible after buying them.

After you have finished questioning them in detail, you should gradually provide facts for the interviewee to consult, and then allow the interviewee to add to their views.

For example: There are many kinds of empty houses, some of these are in remote areas, some are old-fashioned houses which are so outdated that they break building regulations, do you have any suggestions or views about this?

2. When asking questions, avoid only asking “yes or no” questions.

Simple “yes or no” questions have no way of getting any more information out of the interviewee’s answers. Or, after you have asked a “yes or no” question, you should continue by asking the reasons behind this position, or what was it about the current situation which caused them to adopt this position.

For example: Do you understand the current system for property tax? The interviewee can only answer “yes” or “no” to this kind of question, and will not provide any more opinions.

3. Confirm the definitions of nouns during the interview process.

Avoid discussions based on different information, as not only will this lower the efficiency of the interview, but during the follow-up process, when you are arranging the information, you could also misinterpret the information gained from the interview.

For example: The ways that veterinarians and pharmacists define making up prescriptions are different. Veterinarians believe that making up prescriptions only involves preparing the drugs, while pharmacists believe that making up prescriptions also includes inspecting the content of prescription.

4. During the interview process, take care not to digress from the topic, but use moderate divergences when needed.

Moderate divergences from the topic can help collect different aspects of information related to the topic.

For example: The proposal for ‘Levy a tax on empty houses, which will raise holding costs and release more housing resources from the hands of investors, which will keep house prices down.’ Discuss the methods for implementing the empty house tax -> This is in accordance with the content of the proposal. Discuss the adjustment of interest rates for mortgages -> This is in accordance with the part of the proposal relating to holding costs. Discuss the charter administration system -> This is in accordance with the purpose of the proposal, which is ‘to liberate more houses’, but this is a bit of a digression. Discuss social housing -> This is in accordance with the final goal ‘to keep house prices down’, but this is a bit of a digression. Discuss reducing pressure on the capital -> Although this is quite far from the topic, it is in accordance with the goal of the proposal of releasing more housing resources. Discuss the area of residences per capita -> This is the main detail in the method of calculating of house tax based on the number of households, but the issue of holding costs being too low has not yet been settled and is a bit of a digression.

5. When appropriate, during the interview process, you can collate and confirm the interviewee’s main points.

This step will allow the interviewee to feel respected, and can speed up the completion of the meeting records on the day.

For example: When the interviewee has finished giving a long answer to a question, you can confirm with the interviewee whether or not their answer can be summarized according to the following points, and then briefly explain those points.

6. If you feel that what the interviewee is saying is digressing from the topic of conversation, you can ask them to complement what they said by linking it to the main topic.