Partner interview

This is an effective method for overcoming the stiffness typical when beginning work in groups where the participants are not familiar with each other. Attention is turned away from the trainer and towards the participants, thus establishing positive group dynamics.

< 20 pers.

20 - 30 min.

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Outline

Participants are divided into pairs in which both partners are not well acquainted with each other. If there is an uneven number of participants, the trainer may take part in the exercise or create a group with three persons.

One participant in each pair interviews his/her partner and tries to learn as much as possible about him/her. The trainer should provide some guiding questions to facilitate this process.

After approximately 5 minutes the partners switch roles and the other person interviews the first partner.

After the interviews all of the participants present to the group what they have learned about their fellow participants.

Comment

By including in the guiding questions a question regarding the interests and expectations of the course, the trainer will receive some valuable insights into the participants' motivations. But one should keep in mind that the main purpose of this task is to get people talking to each other, therefore it should not matter if participants decide to deviate from the guiding questions.

Variation

If there are more than 20 participants, people are likely to become bored listening to the presentations. In larger groups two pairs can be put together after the initial round of interviews. Each participant then presents what he/she has learned about their colleague to this group of four. In the following plenary session each group of four only presents a summary of what has been said.