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August 25, 2019
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Creating an Interview Protocol

“Stories have wings, and they fly from mountain top to mountain top”

– Romanian Proverb,  this is the story of an interview protocol.


The Appreciative Interview is a tool for exploring the “life-giving” factors of the organization.  It is a process of discovery.  The data you collect in interviews will enable you to locate, illuminate and understand the distinctive strengths that lend the organization life and vitality when functioning at its best.


This will help guide you in developing an interview protocol which you will use to gather data about DTE.  Sample interview questions are provided for your reference.


Creating the interview protocol is an exciting task:  What we ask determines what we find.  What we find determines how we talk.  How we talk determines how we imagine together.  How we imagine together determines what we achieve.


Interview Protocol: Key Considerations in designing good appreciative inquiry questions


  1. Stated in the affirmative.


  1. A leading question that builds on half full assumption.


  1. Gives a broad definition to the topic.


  1. Presented as an invitation:



*positive feeling words;

*locating words;

*experience words.


  1. Good questions enhance the possibilities of story telling and narratives.


  1. Good questions are phrased in rapport talk not report talk.


  1. Good questions are sometimes ambiguous. They give room to swim around.


  1. Good questions are valuing of what is. They spark the appreciative imagination by helping the person locate experiences that are worth valuing.


  1. Good questions convey unconditional positive regard.


  1. Good questions evoke ultimate concerns. *Source: Marge Schiller






Name _______________________________Title______________Date_______


Group/ Department ____________________Years of Service______ Phone_______


Interviewed by___________________________________________


As you know, these are challenging times for utilities and for DTE.  To be able to move forward, we need to be able to identify and enhance our strengths.  I’m going to be part of a conference this fall that will be mapping out the future strategic direction for DTE . To prepare for this event, I’m interviewing several people to find out about their experiences and hopes for the future. Our goal is to locate, illuminate, and understand the distinctive values, management practices, and skills which lend the organization its organizational vitality.  In other words, we are interested in understanding more about what is happening when we are at our best.


The information you provide in this interview will be used to …(e.g. help prepare a corporate vision statement as seen and valued by members at all levels in the corporation.)  Our interest is in learning from your experience.  The collected comments, experience and suggestions from all of the employees interviewed will be summarized and reviewed with Senior Management.


The interview takes about one hour.  The interview will tend to focus on the organization when it is operating at its best in several different topic areas:



  1. To begin, I’d like to learn about your beginnings with the organization.
  • What attracted you to the organization?
  • What were your initial excitements and impressions when you joined the company?


  1. Looking at your entire experience, can you recall a time when you felt most alive, most involved, or most excited about your involvement in the organization?
  • What made it an exciting experience?
  • Who were the most significant others?
  • Why were they significant?
  • What was it about you that made it a peak experience?
  • What were the most important factors in the company that helped to make it a peak experience? (Probe: leadership qualities, structure, rewards, systems, skills, strategy and relationships.)


  1. Let’s talk for a moment about some things you value deeply. Specifically, the things you value about 1) yourself; 2) the nature of your work; and 3) the organization.
  • Without being humble, what do you value the most about yourself – as a human being, a friend, a parent, a citizen, and son/daughter?
  • When you are feeling best about your work, what do you value about the task itself?
  • What is it about the organization that you value?
  • What is the single most important thing the company has contributed to your life?



The organization builds on proven strengths and has a history of being a pioneer in a wide number of areas.  In your opinion, what is the most important achievement that you can recall that best illustrates this spirit of being the best?


What is the most outstanding or successful achievement you have been involved in accomplishing?  A piece of work or project of which you are particularly proud?


  • What was it about you – unique qualities you have – that made it possible to achieve this result?


  • What organizational factors (e.g., leadership, teamwork, culture) fostered this determination to excel or achieve?



Organizations work best when people at all levels share a basic common vision in relation to the company’s core mission, intent, and direction.  When people know the big picture they often experience a feeling of purpose, pride, significance, and unity.


In your mind, what is the common mission or purpose that unites everyone in this organization?


How is this communicated and nurtured?


Think of a time you felt most committed to the organization and its mission.

  • Why did you feel such commitment?


  • Give one example of how the organization has shown its commitment to you.




A cooperative team spirit is important to our company.  Important initiatives usually depend on the support and good will of others within work groups and/or between groups that cross department, specialization, and hierarchical levels.  Cooperation requires trust, open channels of communication, responsiveness to other’s needs, and interpersonal competence.


Think of a time when there was an extraordinary display of cooperation between diverse individuals or groups in the company


  • What made such cooperation possible? (Explore: planning methods used, communication systems or process, leadership qualities, incentives for cooperation, skills, team development techniques and others).


Give an example of the most effective team or committee you have been part of.

What are the factors/ skills that made it effective?




In empowered organizations people feel significant.  People feel they have a chance to make a difference.  They feel that what they do has significance – and they are recognized.


What does the organization do best (at least three examples) when it comes to empowering people?


How do people develop these qualities?



Effective organizations often create a special feeling of alignment among their members, wherein each individual feels that he or she lives the values and goals of the organization in their work and lives.


What does DTE do to heighten a sense of understanding, alignment, or attunement among its employees, partners, shareholders, and customers?


When new members enter the organization, what does DTE do particularly well in educating them about both the mission and values of the organization?




What is the core factor that gives vitality and life to the organization (without it the organization would cease to exist)?



If you could develop or transform the organization in any way you wished, what three things would you do to heighten its vitality and overall health?

Order an interview protocol


This is a sample interview protocol that not only exemplifies how your interview protocol should be formatted but also includes vital questions that the interview protocol must answer. Although the interview protocol may be more detailed than this sample interview protocol, the interview protocol must at least entail the contents of this sample interview protocol



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