Interviewing Children and Witnesses

© UNICEF/NYHQ2008-1214/Kate Holt
Workers from Save the Children UK speak with two unaccompanied girls, at a UNICEF-assisted child reunification centre set up by the international NGO, in a Kibati camp for the displaced, near Goma, capital of North Kivu Province, the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The workers are wearing T-shirts that bear the UNICF logo.


  • Understand the basic principles when interviewing
  • Gain a greater awareness of approaches and skills when interviewing
Participants MRM Staff
Session Introduction to interviewing (30 mins)
Exercise (30 minutes)
Participatory presentation (45 minutes)
Time required 1 hour and 45 minutes
Venue requirements Main training room
Equipment Laptop, LCD projector
2 flipchart stands, paper and markers
Resource person(s) 1 person minimum and the presenter should have practical experience of interviewing children
Training materials - Instructions for Exercise [1], [2], [3], [4], [5], [6] and [7] [PDFs]
- PPT presentation on "Interviewing Children and Witnesses"
Documents for participants - Handout of PPT presentation (3 slides per page with notes)
- Handout "Brief Guide to Child Friendly Interviewing" [PDF]
Access to materials All training materials are included in Folder Module 8D: Interviewing Children and Witnesses

Pre-session Preparations

For the exercise you require to print the following

  • 2 copies of each of the character information sheets (child, social worker & interviewer)
  • 8 sets of each Group Information sheets (depending on size of the training session)
  • Prior to the session select 3 persons who you think could provide a good role-play for the three characters in the scenario. Provide each person with the relevant information sheet. Discuss the scenario and ensure they understand and are comfortable with the requirements. Suggest that the 3 characters should meet briefly to discuss setting the scene and ensure they are prepared.

Session Sequence

  1. Introductory Session on Interviewing (30 minutes)

    Introduce the session as a follow-up to information gathering and explain that this is not a an interview training, as that is a longer course, but that it will provide an introduction to interviewing, and some reminders for those participants who currently carry out interviewing as part of their work.

    Ask participants how many of them do interviewing as part of their work. And what are some of the challenges they face. Then move on to the brainstorming.

    Brainstorming: Ask participants to list "Do's" and "Don'ts" when interviewing.

    As participants provide ideas, list "Do's" on one flip chart and "Don'ts" on the other.

    Whilst the participants should be encouraged to provide the answers add others that are missing.

  2. Interview role play (30 minutes)

    As described in the pre-session preparation you would have briefed the 3 characters for the role-play prior to the exercise. Ideally move to a different setting where the role-play can be centre stage with other participants in a semi-circle around the scene. Alternatively this can be done at the front of the training room if there is not sufficient space in a different area.

    If in a different room, the role-players can now leave the training room to prepare.

    Brief participants that they will watch a child being interviewed; they will be asked to observe. Participants will be given one of four sheets with instructions for observation during the interview role-play. Ask them to take notes in respect of the questions posed.

    Distribute the four Interviewing Group sheets evenly amongst the participants. Ensure that they understand what they are being asked to do.

    Move to the area being used for the role-play.

    Allow 10 minutes for the role-play to be acted.

    After the role-play ask each observation group in turn to provide feedback on the questions asked. Discuss briefly.

    Return to the training room.

  3. Plenary discussion and Interactive presentation (45 minutes)

    This discussion with presentation is useful to do immediately after the exercise on conducting interviews

    In table groups ask each of the following questions - the slides provide answers to each and can aid discussion. (Also see speaker's notes on the power point). It can make it more interesting to do this in the form of a quiz).

    1. What are the key elements to consider before the interview?
    2. What are the practical aspects to take to into account when working with an interpreter?
    3. When you first meet the person how do you start the interview?
    4. List some key points to remember during the interview.
    5. Give some examples of open, closed and leading questions.
    6. How do you end an interview?
    7. Next steps. What should happen after the interview?

    Emphasise again that this is not a comprehensive training on interviewing but will provide some useful reminders.

    Tip: On each of the slides use the opportunities where appropriate to ask participants to contribute prior to providing the answers

Back to top