This is an HTML version of an attachment to the Freedom of Information request 'Support to enable a non English Speaking JSA claimant meet conditionality requirements'.

JSA Interviewing Good Practice 
Introduction 
1.  The aim of a Work Focused Interview (WFI) is to achieve Jobcentre Plus 
objectives by working through customer interests and needs. Working with the 
customer gives you the best chance of success whilst pressurising or 'hard 
selling' is likely to be less effective. 
2.  Having a structure to an interview will: 
  make the most of the time you have available to spend with customers; 
  focus on individual needs; 
  draw up appropriate, realistic and achievable Jobseeker’s Agreements 
(JSAgs); 
  gain customer commitment to a particular course of action; and 
  ensure the customer is available for and actively seeking employment. 
3. Although discussions vary depending upon the customer’s circumstances 
and the type of interview, the process is similar in most interviews.   
4. WFIs: 
 are organised; 
  purposeful; and  
  go through distinct stages. 
Jobsearch competences 
5.  You should be able to recognise and, if necessary, help customers 
develop the competences needed for successful jobsearch. The required 
competences and qualities can be listed in three levels: 
  Level 1 - essentials 
  well defined, personalised and realistic work goals; and  
  knowledge of the 'world of work'. 
These will always be your starting point and will be discussed during even the 
shortest interviews. 
  Level 2 - basic competences and qualities 
  desire or motivation to find work; 
  self-confidence and self-esteem; 
  positive and constructive attitude and expectations; and 
  commitment to work goals. 
  Level 3 - more complex issues 
  self-awareness and/or willingness to accept and act upon feedback 
and guidance from others; 
  social and presentational skills needed for interviews and to perform 
well in the chosen job goal; 
  communication skills needed; 
  ability and willingness to plan; 
  ability to adapt and cope with change;  
  ability to manage effectively any employment limitations related to 
health or disability; and 
  persistence, determination and resilience. 
6.  Level 3 issues are likely to require a close working relationship and more 
time before you can discuss them openly.  Deal with these issues sensitively 

when you feel you have established enough rapport to allow you to do so 
supportively and safely. 
7.  All the competences and qualities above could be adversely affected by 
personal circumstances, for example:  
  domestic, or geographical circumstances; 
  economic or financial circumstances; 
 psychological state; 
  a health problem or disability; 
  personal characteristics, for example: 
  age; 
  gender; 
  culture; 
  race; or 
  religion; 
 education and training; 
  past life/work experiences. 
8.  Focus on things that can be changed, for example, the customer’s 
jobsearch competences. Customers who do not have the necessary 
competences will need more help.  WFIs will help you assess and decide 
upon what kind of help customers need. 
Stages involved in a well-structured Interview 
9.  A Work Focused Interview has the following stages; 
 preparation. 
 introduction. 
  defining the job goal. 
  exploring and evaluating. 
 planning. 
 follow-up. 
Preparation 
10. Preparing properly for your interviews will help ensure you cover relevant 
issues and make best use of time available.  
11. Before each interview familiarise yourself with the customer and determine 
the starting point. For example, find out about: 
 work goals; 
  what they have done previously to find work; 
 barriers to employment; 
  health problems or disability; 
  additional requirements needed to aid communication, for example: 
  someone with hearing impairment may need a private room or an 
interpreter; 
  action previously agreed; and 
  specifics that need to be covered or followed up. 
12. Prepare for each interview differently, for example, at: 
  New Jobseeker Interviews use:  
  the Labour Market System (LMS); and 
  Jobsearch Reviews or main advisory interviews, look at: 

  the Jobseeker’s Agreement; and  
  details on LMS from previous interviews. 
Physical environment 
13. There are many environmental factors which could adversely affect your 
interview or add to any anxiety the customer may be feeling, for example: 
  interruptions by colleagues; 
 telephone calls; 
 background noise; 
  poor layout of the room/furniture;  
  uncomfortable temperature; and 
 poor lighting. 
14. Also,  ensure: 
  there are clear signs inside and outside the building to let the customer 
know where to go; 
  there is an obvious reception point; 
 customers are dealt with promptly; 
  customers have somewhere comfortable to sit if they have to wait - 
ensure they do not feel 'in the way' or exposed; 
  there are facilities available to meet the needs of customers with 
disabilities, for example: 
  appropriate versions of leaflets for customers with visual impairment; 
  there is something for customers to do while waiting, for example: 
  direct them to jobpoints; 
  have leaflets and posters available;  
  writing materials are available if customers need to fill in any forms 
before their interview. 
15. Take particular account of the needs of customers with disabilities.  For 
example; 
  do they have access to the office?   
  do they need a private room?   
  will someone with a hearing impairment need an interpreter. 
Privacy 
16. Interviews will normally take place in an open plan setting. They may cover 
matters of a personal nature or subjects which customers may find upsetting 
or uncomfortable.  
17. Arrange interviewing stations so that as little sound as possible travels 
between them.  Wherever possible, make a private interview room available 
for customers who ask for one or for sensitive interviews. 
Introduction 
18. The first few minutes will set the tone of the interview. Put customers at 
ease and establish rapport as soon as possible by: 
 introducing yourself; 
  explaining what your role is; 
  explaining how long the interview will take; 
 being: 

  positive; 
  welcoming; 
  polite; 
  courteous; and  
  helpful; 
  not using jargon; 
  establishing any additional requirements needed to help customers with 
a health problem or disability participate fully in the interview; and 
  pitching your interview at the right level. 
19. If the customer is entitled to travel expenses for attending the interview, 
they should be paid before the interview.  If not, assure the customer that they 
will be paid immediately afterwards.   
Agreeing the purpose of the interview 
20. Listen carefully to what the customer says and be sensitive to any 
nervousness and hostility.   
21. Explain that the main purpose of the interview is to: 
  see how they are doing in their search for work; 
  see what help, if any, is needed; 
  ensure they remain entitled to JSA by being available for and actively 
seeking employment; and 
  deal with any changes in their circumstances.   
22. The emphasis placed on different elements will depend upon individual 
customers.  For example: 
  you could spend time explaining JSA conditionality at a New Jobseeker 
Interview: or  
  discussing jobsearch activity with those who appear not to be doing 
enough to satisfy the actively seeking work condition.   
23. With others who are clearly doing all they can to find work, you could 
spend less time on the above issues.  Remember, in some cases, too much 
emphasis could damage rapport and hinder progress. 
24. Before moving on, check the customers understanding of the interview 
and discuss: 
  any concerns they have arising from their interview invitation letter; 
  the customers expectations regarding advisory interviews; and 
  previous experience of advisory interviews. 
25. Ensure the customer understands that you are not there to force them into 
an inappropriate course of action.  Your role is to help them decide upon an 
appropriate plan of action.  This will help to gain commitment to whatever you 
agree.  Pressuring customers tends to encourage resistance. 
Defining the job goal 
26. The starting point is the customers main work goal. Ensure they are clear 
about their goal, for example: 
  training is not a work goal, but should be a means to an end.   
  the actual work goal is the sort of job the customer hopes to be able to 
do after undertaking the training. 
27. Ensure the customer does the bulk of the talking. Do not supply ideas too 
early unless they have none of their own. Many customers will go along with 

your ideas, but have no intention of following them through.  If supplying 
ideas, ensure they are relevant to the customer and that they fully understand 
what is involved.   
28. Ensure the job goal is defined as specific job vacancies or job titles, for 
example: 
 industrial cleaner; 
 domestic cleaner; 
 carpet cleaner; 
  office cleaner; or  
  street cleaner is better than: 
  cleaner; and, 
 lorry driver; 
 van driver; 
  taxi driver; or  
  delivery driver is better than: 
  driver. 
Exploring and evaluating 
29. This stage of the interview is about: 
  ensuring the main goal is realistic, reality testing; 
  considering other options; 
  identifying needs and barriers; 
  giving advice and information; and, 
  checking JSA entitlement. 
Reality testing 
30. Having defined a main work goal, talk through the detail of how it is to be 
achieved. Ensure the goals are realistic to help you draw up an effective 
Jobseeker’s Agreement.  
31. If there are still a number of options to choose from, help the customer 
place them in priority order. 
32. Ensure their aims are realistic. Discuss how they will achieve their work 
goal. If they cannot do this, with help and guidance from you, discuss setting a 
more achievable work goal.  
33.  Ensure the customer’s situation lends itself to their chosen work goal, 
consider: 
  health problems; and  
  the local labour market. 
34. The goal should be one the customer is likely to achieve and which they 
feel keen to work towards. This part of the interview depends upon you having 
knowledge of 'the world of work', for example: 
  what particular jobs involve; 
  what jobs are available; 
  what skills are required; 
  how employers recruit; and 
  travel to work patterns. 
Considering other options 
35. It is important to consider other options because: 

  customers should not rely on one goal which may not work out; 
  customers may be limiting themselves through a lack of knowledge or 
awareness; 
  there may be shorter-term goals to aim for;  
  the customer may appear unsuitable for their main job goal, for 
example, their characteristics or personal qualities may be 
inappropriate. Take care when considering these issues as the 
customers appearance or demeanour at an advisory interview may not 
be indicative of their approach to a job interview or work; 
  the customer may lack focus in their jobsearch; or 
  they may be needed to satisfy the JSA entitlement conditions, for 
example: 
  availability; and  
  actively seeking work. 
36. Some customers narrow their options too much; while others leave their 
choices so wide that they have no focus to their jobsearch.  Those who say 
they will do 'anything' rarely mean that.  Also, they are less likely to succeed 
than those who are better focused on a few options.   
37.  An interest in a few options is the best starting point especially if 
accompanied by a willingness to be flexible.  Best progress is likely to be 
made by those who are prepared to compromise, take advantage of 
opportunities and take a step at a time towards their goals.   
38. Your role at this stage is to help the customer talk through what they must 
do to achieve their goal(s).  Someone who wants 'office work' would be well 
advised to consider the different jobs that exist in that area. 
39. Encourage  customers  to  pick the goal they think is most suitable and to 
work just on that one, using the others as 'fall back' options if the first proves 
unworkable.  
40. Customers should also keep in mind that they may initially have to do a job 
that is not their ideal choice.  Having a job may help them get their ideal 
choice because they will have current work experience and references. 
Unlocking the goal 
41. If the customer has difficulty identifying alternative or 'fall back' options, a 
useful way of exploring them is to use the 'unlocking the goal technique'.   
42. This involves finding out what customers like about their ideal or chosen 
goals and using this to explore other options. For example, you may ask: 
  what is it about being a dental assistant that particularly interests you?; 
  why do you especially enjoy being a care assistant?; and 
  what other jobs can you use those skills for? 
43. Often, there are several jobs that the customer would enjoy just as much 
as the one that they have set their heart on, but they are not aware of them.  
Sometimes, it can be helpful to explore these options.  
44. Alternatively, a customer who has decided they must go on a certain 
training course may not be aware that training could be got 'on the job'.  Or 
they may be aiming for something that is not usually available. 
45. Use your knowledge of the local labour market and occupations to suggest 
other options that the customer might pursue. 

Identifying needs and barriers 
46. Identify any needs or barriers that the customer has to overcome, for 
example: 
  they may know what they want to do and have the necessary skills, but 
there are transport difficulties that make it hard for them to get to where 
the work exists.   
  Alternatively, the work they want may not exist in the area in which they 
are living or willing to travel; 
47. The following paragraphs look at a range of issues that can form barriers 
to a speedy return to work and suggests ways in which you can help 
customers overcome them.  
48. The first four topics might be covered in any type of interview. The rest, 
noted as 'casework issues' are more complex and probably better dealt with 
by referring the customer on to a caseload where more time can be spent with 
them. The topics are: 
 Motivation 
  Self-confidence and self-esteem 
  Positive and constructive attitude and expectations 
 Commitment 
  Self-Awareness and Willingness to Accept or Act Upon Feedback 
(Caseload) 
 Social and presentational skills (Caseload) 
  Communication skills for the chosen job goal (Caseload) 
  Ability and Willingness to Plan, be Patient and to Recognise Progress 
(Caseload) 
  Ability and Inclination to Adapt to and Cope With Change (Caseload) 
  Energy Levels, Determination and Resilience (Caseload) 
Motivation 
49. Throughout the interview look for signs of the customers intent and 
determination to find a job or work towards one.  If you feel there is a lack of 
motivation, do some gentle exploration.   
50. For example, a customer may say: 
  'I'm hoping to get a job as a secretary because that's what I really like 
doing and I can't see any point in looking for any other job.'   
51. At this point the goal might seem fine.  However, if there are plenty of 
secretarial jobs available, but the customer has been unemployed for nine 
months, you may doubt that they actually intend getting this, or any, type of 
work.   
52. Your response might be: 
  'That seems like an appropriate goal for you and there are plenty of jobs 
to apply for.  Perhaps the thing we need to get to grips with is what 
might be getting in the way of finding a secretarial job' 
53. This may show that the customer is in fact motivated, but there are other 
problems.  Alternatively, it may result in a number of excuses that suggest he 
or she does not want to make the necessary effort.   
54. If you feel motivation is a problem say something like: 
  'I may be wrong, but I'm getting the impression that you are not really 
convinced that you do want secretarial work'.   

55. This should open up the opportunity to discuss what the customer does 
want and, if necessary, remind the customer of the actively seeking work 
condition. 
56. Another example might be a customer who is unenthusiastic about 
everything you suggest and who gives you the impression that they do not 
really mean what they say.  
57. Your response might be: 
  'We've talked quite a lot about re-training to become a kitchen-fitter, but 
I get the impression you feel this may not be right for you.  It would 
help me, and perhaps you too, if we can talk about any doubts that you 
have'.   
58. Sometimes discussing doubts can lead to better options. 
59. If a customer appears demotivated or is not seeking work as actively as 
they could, ensure their job goal and jobsearch activities, as defined in their 
JSAg, are right.   
60. It may be, for example: 
  that they are no longer committed to their JSAg and that it needs to be 
revised.   
61. If, however, the JSAg is still relevant and appropriate, other action may be 
needed, for example:  
  the customer might benefit from attending a Restart Course or some 
other programme aimed at helping build confidence and motivation; or 
  a referral to a Decision Maker may be appropriate on the grounds that 
the customer is not actively seeking work. 
62. It may be that the customer’s lack of success has nothing to do with a lack 
of motivation. They may for example, be: 
  actively chasing jobs and well motivated, but lack the basic jobsearch 
skills, for example: 
  interviewing skills; and  
  telephone techniques.  
If so, suggest ways of improving these;  
  being beaten to jobs by better candidates. If so: 
  encourage the customer to maintain their efforts; 
  help keep them motivated; or  
  suggest that they may wish to consider different goals that are easier 
to achieve; 
  applying for interviews, but not getting them after disclosing a health 
problem or disability. If so: 
  consider referring to a matching caseload or to a Disability 
Employment Adviser (DEA) for more help.  
63. To overcome problems: 
  never assume customers do not want a job: 
  find out why they appear to be demotivated and help them overcome 
the problem; 
  help customers see how they would be better off in work: 
  help them see the benefits and rewards; and  
  perform a better-off calculation; 

  explain about Rapid Re-claim and the streamlined process this 
provides, if they are concerned about re-claiming following short-term 
work; 
  help build confidence and identify achievable work goals; 
 explore options: 
  give the customer choices to make; 
  help customers see that progress is being made; 
  help customers replace irrational and demotivating thoughts with more 
positive and rational ones; 
  if necessary, remind customers of the JSA entitlement conditions. 
Self-confidence and self-esteem 
64. The level of self-confidence and self-esteem is an indication of how 
customers feel about themselves and their faith in being able to get and keep 
a job.  If self-confidence or self-esteem is low, the customer may appear 
negative or demotivated.   
65. Overcome  problems  by: 
  treating customers with respect and warmth: 
  show an interest and belief in them and their abilities, particularly if 
they have a health problem or disability which is causing low levels 
of self-confidence and self-esteem; 
  identifying, highlighting and praising strengths and positive qualities; 
  highlighting and praising constructive efforts; 
  being supportive enough to help customers take steps forward; and 
  not patronising customers. 
Positive and constructive attitude and expectations 
66. Ensure customers see jobseeking in terms of success, the rewards it will 
bring and the detail of what is involved.  An optimistic and practical approach 
is more likely to succeed, but this may be difficult for customers who are 
depressed about their inability to find work or the length of time they have 
been unemployed or finding it hard to cope with the realities of, for example: 
 their age; 
 health; 
  geographical location; or  
  the state of the local labour market.  
67. Overcome  problems  by: 
  praising any positive or constructive approaches and views; 
  gently questioning/confronting any persistently negative approaches or 
views.   
  help customers appreciate the implications of these and replace such 
ideas with more positive and helpful ways of looking at things; 
  not getting 'bogged down' or personally involved with negative attitudes; 
  boosting confidence through highlighting strengths and positive 
characteristics;  
  helping the customer focus on ways to overcome health problems or a 
disability that is forming an employment related barrier; and   
  discuss the help available and how to seek work more positively. 

Commitment 
68. Assess how much customers genuinely want to achieve their work goals: 
  are they applying themselves seriously to the steps necessary to 
achieve their goals?   
69. Commitment can be affected by other factors mentioned previously, for 
example: 
 self-confidence; 
  a lack of motivation; 
  persistence; and  
 resilience.   
70. Overcome  problems  by: 
  ensuring work goals are: 
  suitable; 
  realistic; and  
  achievable; 
  highlighting the benefits of achieving the work goal; 
  identifying reasons for the lack of commitment and try to help the 
customer 'iron them out'; 
  ensuring they can see how their goals can be achieved; and 
  helping them to believe in their own ability to achieve their work goals. 
Self-awareness and willingness to accept or act upon feedback 
71. Individual awareness of personal skills and qualities can vary 
considerably.  Some customers: 
 under-rate themselves;  
 over-rate themselves; or 
  have no concept of where they stand.   
72. Some customers are also unwilling to accept feedback from others.  
Always be constructive in your feedback. 
73. If the customer lacks awareness of the skills and qualities that they have: 
  discuss their work goals; and  
  how they plan to sell themselves to potential employers.   
74. Without mentioning at this stage, any discrepancy between what the 
customer thinks they can do and what you see in their behaviour: 
  ask about how they got on at previous interviews or in past jobs, and 
about any feedback that they received from these; 
  give them the opportunity to diagnose their own problems;   
  ask rather than tell;   
  feedback where it is necessary, but in a constructive and sensitive way; 
  support where feedback is difficult to accept;  
  help customers see how the impression they give can have an 
undesired effect, and,  
  help customers see how trying to change something about themselves, 
their work goals or their activities could help them find work. 
75. If the customer seems to be too aware or self-conscious: 
  help them to see the irrational aspects of overemphasising 
characteristics that others will probably not consider that important; 
and 
  highlight their strengths and ability to succeed. 

Social and presentational skills 
76. It is important that customers behave and appear in a way that will be 
acceptable to an interviewer or employer. This includes how they interact with 
others and how they dress.   
77. Clearly, in some jobs, for example: 
 manual jobs: 
  this requirement will be much lower or less important than, for 
example: 
  management jobs or jobs with people involvement. 
78. Overcome  problems  by: 
  ensuring you cover social and presentational skills when discussing the 
suitability of work goals;   
  asking customers how they feel they will cope with the job requirements 
and at interviews; 
  highlighting the social and presentational skills the interviewer will be 
looking for;   
  asking the customer how they will convince the employer that they are 
the right person for the job; 
  exploring the options available to help customers if their communication 
skills are affected by a health problem or disability; and 
  giving feedback honestly and tactfully if you think the customer does not 
have the necessary: 
  aptitude; 
  characteristics; 
  skills; or  
  abilities for their chosen work goal. 
Communication skills for the chosen job goal 
79. Customers must have communication skills that match the expectations of 
the employer and the job. These skills will vary depending upon the kind of 
work the customer is looking for.   
80. For example, many manual jobs require modest communication skills, but 
jobs involving: 
 telephone work; 
 customer contact; 
 meetings; 
  presentations; or  
 written work; 
will require good communication skills. The interview is one way in which the 
employer will assess communication skills. 
81. Overcome  problems  by: 
  covering communication skills when discussing the suitability of work 
goals: 
  ask the customer how they feel they will cope with the job 
requirements and interviews; 
  highlighting the kind of communication skills that the interviewer is 
likely to look for; 
  ask the customer how they will convince the employer that they are 
the best candidate; and 

  giving feedback honestly and tactfully; and  
  as a last resort if you think the customer does not have the necessary 
communication skills for their chosen job goal. 
Ability and willingness to plan, be patient and to recognise progress 
82. Some customers lack the organisational skill to work out all the things they 
need to do to achieve their job goals.   
83. Since success cannot always be achieved instantly and many goals need 
a good deal of work or effort before they can be achieved, customers must be 
prepared to make progress one stage at a time, and be prepared to wait for 
the ultimate reward.  
84. Some customers give up too easily, become depressed or cynical 
because one or two interviews did not work out very well and need reasons 
and encouragement to keep trying.   
85. Overcome  problems  by: 
  breaking down suitable work goals into chunks or sub-goals, for 
example: 
  checking details of the job content;  
  reviewing technical information;  
  taking a correspondence course;  
  reading a book;  
  doing some voluntary work;  
  finding people to give them references,  
  finding out which employers to contact; 
  ensuring the benefits and rewards for each task are clear; 
  ensuring the customer understands that each step builds on the last; 
and the idea of building towards the ultimate goal; 
  ensuring customers put 'failure' at an interview into perspective and 
understand that this is no reason to give up.  Not succeeding at 
interviews can be for a variety of reasons, some of which are outside 
the customers control; 
  encouraging customers to undertake training or strive for short term 
goals that will help lead to their ultimate work goal; 
  helping customers with a health problem or disability to identify barriers 
to employment and to plan a way around them; and 
  reminding customers of their obligation to actively seek work. 
Ability and inclination to adapt to and cope with change 
86. Customers may need to be able and prepared to make changes to their 
behaviour, attitudes or plans in the light of experience, new events or 
evidence, without being demoralised or stressed.  
87. Deal with problems sensitively and tactfully, as some customers may feel 
uncomfortable about change. 
88. Overcome  problems  by: 
  identifying what is not working in the interests of the customer; 
  exploring options and helping the customer find more constructive ways 
of looking at things so that they do not continue with ways that stress 
them or block progress; 
 being: 
  positive; 

  logical; 
  reasonable; and  
  factual; 
  not expecting too much change too quickly; and 
  remembering that change can be threatening and frightening for some 
customers and that they may need support throughout this process. 
Energy levels, determination and resilience 
89. Looking for work requires considerable persistence, determination and 
resilience.  It also means being able to take set backs and overcome them 
without being thrown off course.  It is less likely to be problematic if, for 
example: 
  self-confidence is high; 
  work goals are realistic; and  
  the customer’s approach is positive and constructive.   
90. Overcome  problems  by: 
  ensuring work goals are realistic and achievable; 
  identifying the benefits of success; 
  identifying ways of making progress one step at a time, and by 
highlighting the benefits along the way; 
  ensuring motivation, confidence and skill levels are high; 
  discouraging a lifestyle that will lessen energy and hinder the 
customer’s ability to cope or achieve their work goal; and 
  encouraging customers to do things for themselves and ensuring you 
praise or acknowledge their efforts. 
Giving advice and information 
91. Throughout the interview, ensure you allow the customer to make his or 
her own decisions.  Give advice when it is needed, the ideal kind of advice 
being that which influences, but allows them to make their own decisions.  
92. This leaves control and responsibility with the customer and is described 
as a 'pulling' style of influencing.   
93. For example, a customer wishing to do a particular course of engineering 
may not have, and may not be aware that they need, a certain level of 
mathematical ability.  Knowing this may help them focus on a more 
achievable work goal.  The customer may, of course, still want to do the 
course, but will need to obtain the prerequisite skills. 
94. Sometimes, your advice may need to be more persuasive, particularly if 
someone is not taking positive action to find work, and they are putting their 
entitlement to JSA in doubt.  If so, it is probably in the customers best 
interests to 'nudge' them into something that brings them a step closer to a 
job.  
95. If you have to do this, be open and honest about what is being done and 
why.  Discuss the situation and reach agreement on what they will do, taking 
into account their circumstances.  This is known as a 'pushing' style of 
influencing. 
96. Bear in mind is that whatever action is suggested, it must be clearly in the 
customers interest or likely to satisfy what they see as their needs.  
Otherwise, they will be unlikely to agree to it.  Also ensure the customer 

understands the reasons for doing what you suggest, otherwise they will have 
little commitment to following it through. 
Checking JSA entitlement 
97. Bear in mind, especially during the exploring and evaluating stage of the 
interview that customers must be available for and actively seeking work to 
receive JSA.   
98. Ensure the customer understands that part of your job is to ensure they 
have a reasonable chance of finding the work they are looking for and are not 
reducing their chances because of unreasonable limits on, for example: 
  the type of work they are willing to do; 
  the days and hours they are willing to work; and  
  where they are willing to work. 
99. These are important considerations when discussing work goals and the 
steps needed to achieve them. 
Planning 
100.  The final stage of the interview is planning, you must: 
  agree how the work goal is to be achieved; 
  be specific; and 
  clarify, review and summarise to check understanding and agreement. 
101.  Having agreed the most appropriate work goal and discussed how this 
is to be achieved, ensure the Jobseeker’s Agreement (JSAg) is meaningful 
and appropriate. This involves deciding: 
  what needs to be done, including who to contact; 
  where it needs to be done; 
  how it should be done; and 
  when it should be done. 
102.  Ensure the customer leaves the interview with a clear understanding of 
what they need to do if they are to find work in their chosen field.  The way 
that planning is done will depend upon the individual.  The more competent 
and able the customer, the more straightforward this will be.   
103.  With others you may need to spend more time, keep the plan simple 
and short, and explain anything about which the customer is unclear.   
104.  The main goal and the steps to achieve it will be set out in the 
customers JSAg.  The number of steps will vary depending on the capacity 
and needs of the customer.   
105.  More able customers will be able to cope with a longer list of steps, say 
4 or 5.  Less able customers will be better off with a shorter list. However, the 
content of the JSAg, if followed, must be sufficient to meet the actively 
seeking work and availability criteria. 
Follow-up 
106.  Ensure the customer is clear about what will happen next.  Be open 
and honest and let the customer know what to expect.  What you do will 
depend upon the sort of interview you have undertaken and what you have 
agreed with the customer.   
107. For 
example: 
  at a New Jobseeker Interview tell the customer; 

  that they will be seen fortnightly to discuss how they are getting on in 
their search for work; 
  see if any further help is needed; and  
  to ensure they remain entitled to JSA;  
  that if they remain unemployed, they will be interviewed after 13 
weeks; or 
  if they have one, at the end of the permitted period, to review their 
JSAg and see if it is still helpful or needs to be changed; 
  if referring them to a DEA: 
  why the referral is being made; 
  how they will be notified of the interview; and  
  what will be covered. 
  if you intend to take the customer on to your caseload: 
  tell them when you would next like to see them and why; 
  at other advisory interviews tell the customer: 
  we will maintain an interest in them through Jobsearch Reviews. 
Interviewing techniques 
108.  This section gives general advice on interviewing techniques in the 
following areas: 
 Generating commitment 
 Persuasion 
 Mirroring 
 Active Listening 
Generating commitment 
109.  Gaining commitment is crucial if customers are to see their Jobseeker’s 
Agreement (JSAg) as a useful aid to jobsearch. There are three key principles 
to apply when trying to gain commitment: 
uunderstanding the customer’s view: 
  if the customer feels you are trying hard to understand their situation, 
concerns and problems in getting back to work, they are more likely to 
have confidence that the options you are suggesting will meet their 
needs.  Agreeing the purpose of the interview helps the customer to 
understand that you are there to help and not just to check that they 
satisfy the conditions for receipt of Jobseekers' Allowance (JSA). 
Being a positive influence: 
  ensure customers feel that you are interested in and positive about 
them and their situation.  For example: 
  focus on their strengths; 
  praise any indications of effort or success; 
  use positive language, such as: 
  'Tell me what you are doing to find work.' rather than: 
  'Are you doing anything to find a job ? ' 
  find positive aspects in what the customer says to you. For example if 
they say they are too old to find another job, highlight the qualities 
older workers can often offer: 
 experience; 
 loyalty; 

 flexibility; 
 drive; 
  innovation; and  
  good work record; 
Leaving control with the customer.  
  Consider the following: 
  the more control customers have over what is in their JSAg, the more 
likely they are to be committed to it, and the more confident they are 
likely to be about their abilities and themselves. 
  do not make lots of suggestions too quickly.  Customers will often 
readily agree, but be less committed to following through what is 
'agreed'. 
  do not confuse control with structure.  You control the structure by 
outlining the purpose of the interview and by influencing as 
necessary to keep the discussion relevant. The customer should be 
in control when discussing interests and work goals. Let them make 
their own choices. 
Persuasion 
110.  To gain customer commitment to a course of action, persuade them 
effectively. There are two styles of persuasion: 
  A 'push' style: 
  is usually characterised by you: 
  taking too much control; 
  making too many suggestions too early; and  
  by giving too much information.   
  it also occurs if you are thinking only of outcomes you want, rather 
than considering what the customer wants and what is appropriate 
for them. Generally, this results in low levels of commitment. Even if 
customers appear to go along with your ideas, they may not follow 
them through.   
Note:  Generally, the 'push' style of persuasion is unhelpful.  However, it may 
sometimes be in the customer's best interests to 'nudge' them in a certain 
direction. 
  A 'pull' style: 
  involves the use of carefully structured and specific questions to draw 
out the customer's views and build upon their ideas; 
  this approach is much more likely to gain the customer's 
commitment, while still allowing you to achieve office targets. 
Mirroring 
111.  By looking at people talking together, you can spot those who have a 
good rapport by their non-verbal behaviour.   
112.  Those with a good rapport will usually be sitting in the same way, for 
example: 
 leaning forward; 
  sitting back; or  
  adjusting their posture at the same time.  
113.  To listen to them, you are also likely to notice they are: 

  speaking at the same pace; and  
  using the same kind of language. 
114.  Use 'mirroring' during interviews to help establish rapport, for example: 
  if the customer leans back and looks relaxed, do the same; 
  if they speak slowly, do likewise. 
115.  There will, of course, be times when 'mirroring' is unhelpful.  For 
example, if the customer is angry, it would be unhelpful to mirror all aspects of 
their behaviour.  However, by looking serious and by using small movements 
of the head you can mirror the pace at which the customer is talking and, by 
using active listening skills, show that you understand their feelings without 
necessarily agreeing with them.   
116.  Adopting this approach will help you diffuse the situation and 
encourage a more constructive discussion. 
Active listening 
117.  Active listening means showing that you understand what the customer 
is saying. This will help you and the customer understand the situation.  It will 
also help ensure the discussion is customer focused.   
118.  Skills involved in active listening are: 
 paraphrasing; 
 reflecting feelings; 
 clarifying; 
 summarising; and 
 silencing. 
Paraphrasing 
119.  This involves repeating back to the customer what they have just said, 
but in a slightly different way. It shows that you have been listening and that 
you understand what the customer has said.  It also gives customers the 
chance to correct any misunderstanding you have about what they have said, 
for example: 
  Customer:   
  ‘I don’t know how I'll ever find a job.  I'm too old.’ 
  Adviser: 
 
  ‘So you think your age is making it difficult for you to get a job?’ 
Reflecting feelings 
120.  This is more than paraphrasing as it involves repeating to the customer 
the idea or feeling of what they have said.  To do this, look 'behind' what the 
customer has said and take into account their non-verbal behaviour.  
121.  Doing this will help you expand the discussion and draw out the 
meaning of what the customer has said, for example: 
  Customer:   
  ‘I don’t know how I'll ever find a job.  I'm too old and just cannot see 
what I can do.’ 
  Adviser: 
 
  ‘So you cannot see any way back into work?’ 
122.  This encourages more information from the customer and allows you to 
emphasise positive aspects.  If the customer is being negative about their 

situation, wait for a natural break in what they are saying and get them to look 
at their situation in a fresh light, for example:  
  Adviser: 
 
  ‘I can see your difficulties, but let's look at the qualities you have as 
an older customer, for example, experience, good work record, 
drive, flexibility, innovation and reliability.  These are things that 
employers look for’. 
Clarifying 
123.  Check that you have understood what the customer has said by asking 
probing questions, for example: 
  Customer:   
  ‘I don’t know how I will ever find a job.  I'm too old.’ 
  Adviser: 
 
  ‘What makes you think you are too old to get a job?‘ 
124.  If this does not encourage the customer to expand on their feelings, 
use supplementary questions, for example: 
  Adviser: 
 
  ‘Is it because you think employers feel you have little to offer?’ or  
  ‘Do you think you are too old to consider other types of work?’ 
125.  At other times you may be uncertain about something because the 
customer has said so much.  If so, admit this, for example:  
  Adviser: 
 
  ‘I'm sorry, I have not quite followed what you have said.  I was with 
you until you mentioned your qualifications, but I'm not sure why you 
feel you need further training.  Would you take me through that 
again, please?’  
126.  It is better to admit to being confused rather than wait and hope that 
you will understand later. 
Summarising 
127.  Summarise at various stages during the interview. This will help ensure 
there is a common understanding of the situation and it will help you make 
appropriate suggestions.  It will also clarify what has been done so far and 
what the customer needs to do next, for example: 
  Summarising: 
 
  ‘Let's recap on what we've discussed.  You feel it's going to be hard 
for you to get a job because the work you have normally done is no 
longer available. Is that right?’ 
  Course of action:   
  ‘So you may wish to consider re-training in the future, but right now you 
want to explore alternative jobs you could do now.’ 
Silencing and pacing 
128.  Choosing the right time to speak and the right time to listen is 
important.  Silences give customers time to think and answer - do not rush 
customers if an answer does not seem forthcoming.  
129.  If you rush them they may agree just to keep you happy, but they will 
be less likely to do what they say they will.  Wait as long as possible for an 
answer, but say something if the customer seems lost for words. 

130.  Pacing your interview is also important. Be observant. Check the effect 
of your speed and change it if the customer seems to be struggling to keep 
up.  Try and pace your speed to match the customer's and their mood. 
Questioning techniques 
Closed questions 
131.  These are questions which require very simple, often one-word, 
answers, for example: 
  ‘Did you enjoy that job?’ 
  ‘Are you seeing the Disability Employment Adviser?’ 
  ‘Do you like office work?’ 
  ‘Do you prefer working outdoors?’ 
132.  Such questions are useful when you want quick and simple 
information.  They help narrow a conversation when the customer is being 
vague or speaking in general terms. 
Open questions 
133.  These kind of questions are useful for getting information, views and 
comments from customers, for example: 
  ‘What did you like about the job?’ 
  ‘What kinds of work do you like doing?’ 
  ‘What do you think about joining a Jobcentre Plus Support Contract 
provision?’ 
  ‘How do you feel your health problem/disability limits you in finding 
work?’ 
Three levels of questions 
134.  Another way of thinking about questions is in terms of what kind of 
information is required. This information can come at three levels: 
  Facts  
 
  ‘How many job applications did you make last week?’ 
  Opinions 
 
  ‘How do you think you did at the interview?’ 
  Feelings 
 
  ‘How would you feel about joining a Jobcentre Plus Support Contract 
provision?’ 
135.  Listening to and interpreting answers is as important as asking the right 
questions.  Clues to opinions and feelings can come from not only what the 
customer says, but how they say it. 
Influencing 
136.  Creating a positive, problem solving, optimistic approach and trying to 
understand the customer's view is the basis of convincing them that their 
problems can be overcome, and ensuring they are committed to their 
Jobseeker's Agreement.  
137.  In addition to listening and asking questions, influencing strategies 
include: 
 presenting options 

 confronting issues 
  the 'think about it' approach 
  giving prescriptions for action 
 miscellaneous influencing 
 advocacy 
  dealing with distress 
  dealing with difficult customers 
Presenting options 
138.  Present options by: 
  demonstrating how they will help the customer address their problems, 
for example: 
  if the customer says they have a problem finding jobs, tell them how 
Jobclub can help identify employers that they might apply to: 
  this is using the 'pull' style of influencing and it is more helpful than 
selling Jobclub on 'free stamps' - sell options in relation to customer 
needs; 
  listening to the customer and encouraging them to expand upon any 
doubts. Doubts can be allayed more effectively if you clearly 
understand them; 
  presenting information in small chunks; 
  describing how they have helped customers in the past; and 
  letting customers decide for themselves. 
Confronting issues 
139.  This means bringing issues into the open for discussion: 
  do this when important issues appear to be hidden or being avoided; 
  do it clearly, but carefully, particularly if the issue is about actively 
seeking employment; 
  be calm and maintain a positive, helpful attitude; 
  say what your concern is; 
  show concern by explaining the consequences of the customer's 
actions, or lack of them. 
140.  Pay attention to what the customer is saying, for example: 
   ‘From the things you have said, I get the impression that you have 
other concerns about finding work.  I'm wondering if your health is 
causing problems which may affect the work you could do.’ 
  ‘From some of the things you are saying, I get the impression that you 
might not really be looking for work.’ 
  ‘I see you are looking for a wage of £300 per week.  Do you think you 
will be able to get that kind of wage for the work you are looking for?’    
Note: say the above in a supportive and understanding way, rather than 
accusingly.  Try to maintain rapport so that the issue can be discussed calmly. 
The 'think about it' approach 
141.  This can be very useful for encouraging customers to think things 
through for themselves, for example: 
  ‘What do you think an employer would think about the experience you 
have?’ 
  ‘How many jobs like that have you seen advertised in the last month?’ 

Giving prescriptions for action 
142.  Only tell the customer what to do as a last resort. Prescriptions which 
may prove useful include: 
  ‘I want you to talk it over with your partner and come back on Thursday 
to let me know your decision.’ 
  ‘You want to continue looking for work on your own, but this does not 
seem to be working out.  I suggest if you are not successful in the next 
month you should join a Jobclub to get more help.  Is that reasonable?’ 
143.  If you feel the customer ought to take a course of action, which they 
are refusing to do, you may wish to issue a Jobseeker's Direction. 
Miscellaneous influencing strategies 
144.  There are other verbal strategies which you can use to 'chip away' at 
negative thinking or indecision, for example: 
Customer  
Adviser  
‘I cannot do that’. 
‘It sounds more like you do not want 
to do......’ 
‘I know it will go wrong.’ 
‘You think it will go wrong’. 
It is impossible. 
‘You think it is impossible.’ 
I'd like to, but..... 
‘You'd like to and....... 
Customer is anxious and will not 
‘What is the worse thing that could 
make a decision because of what 
happen?’ ‘Would that be so bad?’ 
may go wrong. 
Customer is not receptive to change. 
Explain how things could be different 
and better. 
Customer seems to be 'bottling' 
‘What would you like to say/do?’ 
things up. 
Customer finds fault with everything. 
I'll leave you to think about it for a 
while. 
Advocacy 
145.  Some customers will not be able to do things for themselves, for 
example those with: 
 low ability; 
  a severe lack of confidence: 
  very low self-esteem: or  
  extreme shyness.   
146.  If you feel this is the case, you may need to do more for that person 
than would ordinarily be required.  This may even mean taking action for the 
customer, which they would normally be expected to take themselves.  This 
kind of support may be particularly appropriate to some customers with a 
health problem or disability. 
147.  Ensure you do not take over completely.  Customers must feel that 
they are doing something for themselves and making some progress. For 
example: 
  if a customer wants to go to Jobclub, but they are too shy to go alone; 
  arrange for the Jobclub leader to meet the customer or get another 
member to accompany them.   

148.  In extreme cases, you may think it appropriate to take them yourself.  
In other cases it may be enough to phone the leader, explain the situation and 
put the customer `on the line'.  
149.  Seek an appropriate balance between what you will do and what the 
customer will do and encapsulate this in the Jobseeker's Agreement.  Offer 
the minimum support needed.  Encourage the customer to do as much for 
themselves as possible as this will build confidence and help them be more 
resourceful. 
Dealing with distress 
150.  If a customer shows signs of distress, for example: 
  they are angry; 
  appear worried; or  
  are close to tears, deal with their emotional state. Do this by: 
  acknowledging the problem; 
  stopping the interview if you have started it; 
  showing empathy; 
  working to understand why the customer is angry or upset; 
  explaining things clearly and calmly if the reason for the customer's 
distress is related to something you have said; and 
  give them time to compose themselves. 
151.  Do not continue with the interview until they are in a more composed 
state.  
Difficult customers 
152.  Few customers are actually unpleasant or unmanageable. There will, 
however, always be some customers who are more difficult than others.  This 
can be for a number of reasons, for example, some customers may: 
  have personal problems: 
  be anxious; 
  be defensive: 
  be depressed; or  
  be stressed: 
  be sensitive or ill and less able to cope with daily events; 
  appear not to be seeking work and react aggressively when approached 
about this; 
  have an appearance which is not suited to their job goal and they may 
take exception to being challenged about this; 
  may not be prepared to take the steps necessary to achieve their work 
goal. 
153.  When difficult situations arise, it is likely to be the customer's reaction 
to the situation they are in. In the main this will relate to discussions about 
unrealistic job goals or an apparent failure to satisfy the actively seeking work 
or availability conditions.  However, it may also be a reaction to your 
behaviour or that of others in the office. 
154.  Report to your manager: 
  actual physical assaults; 
  any other instances where you feel threatened by a member of the 
public, either inside or outside the office, and it is in connection with 
your work.  This includes threatening behaviour and verbal abuse. 

Preventing incidents 
155.  Try and avoid difficult situations by: 
  treating all customers impartially and with respect; 
  showing empathy (understanding) rather than sympathy (showing 
concern and sharing the problem in some way); 
 being: 
  helpful; 
  friendly; 
  polite; and  
  considerate; 
  being sensitive to the customer's feelings; 
  listening carefully to what customers say to you; 
  explaining things carefully and in plain English; 
  preparing properly for your interviews; 
 being: 
  honest; 
  open; and  
  frank; 
  being positive, not patronising; 
  ensuring what you tell customers is: 
  right; 
  accurate; and  
  up to date; 
  referring to your line manager if a customer refuses to accept your 
explanation; 
  not getting involved personally in the customer's feelings or situation.  
Understand it, but do not get entangled in it; 
  keeping calm and unruffled, but responding rather than seeming to 
ignore; 
  not being judgmental.  When giving feedback do not be aggressive or 
too insistent; 
  explaining things clearly and indicating why a problem exists; 
  calling for help if a customer becomes aggressive; and 
  telling your manager if you have reason to believe a customer is 
potentially violent. 
156.  If none of this works: 
  make clear to the customer the conclusion you are reaching.  Use 
evidence to explain and describe the consequences that could result; 
  encourage the customer to take responsibility for themselves; 
  you may need to be more directive and start making suggestions or 
giving advice based on what you have heard; 
  ensure the customer understands the problem that they have and the 
consequences of failing to resolve the issue or problem, particularly if 
there is a risk of losing benefit; 
  tell customers what you are obliged to do if the issue or problem cannot 
be resolved; and 
  give the customer every opportunity, at all stages of the process to 
resolve the issue or problem. 

Safety in the workplace 
157.  Business Managers are responsible for ensuring local instructions are 
available for: 
  measures to minimise the likelihood of assault in their office(s) and in 
places where their officers are outstationed; and 
  what action to take if an incident appears to be developing or if an 
assault takes place. 
158.  The preparation and introduction of such instructions is a legal 
requirement under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 
1992. The instructions must contain: 
  a policy statement and responsibilities; 
  guidance on customer handling; 
  guidance on how to make the physical environment safe; 
  guidance on what to do if an incident is developing; 
  guidance on what to do if an incident develops; 
  guidance on what to do following an incident; and 
   details of how instructions will be updated and reviewed 
159. Do 
not: 
  share confidences with customers regarding your personal life or other 
members of staff; 
  give the impression that you are available for lengthy casual 
conversation; 
  attempt to give advice where referral to another organisation would be 
more appropriate; 
  put yourself at risk by reacting aggressively or by being judgmental. If a 
customer is rude or uncooperative they may just be nervous; 
  do not take an agitated customer into a private room unless you have a 
colleague with you and have made other colleagues aware of it; 
  continue to deal with a customer if they make you feel uncomfortable or 
upset - refer on to your line manager; 
  discuss customer details openly in the public area or with family or 
friends; 
  enter into 'deals' outside work with customers, for example: 
  lend money; 
  buy things off them; or 
  sell things to them; 
  accept personal gifts from customers as this could compromise your 
professional rapport with them; 
  raise false hopes.  Be realistic, do not make promises you cannot keep; 
  give lifts to customers; 
  leave loose objects around which could be used as a missile or a 
weapon; 
  interview alone a person who is known to be: 
  potentially violent; or  
  who appears to be under the influence of drink or drugs; 
  keep customers waiting longer than necessary; 
  try to arrest or detain an assailant; 
  retaliate by word or action. 

POLICY 
Interviewing/advising friends and relatives 
160.  Unless unavoidable, never interview or advise: 
 friends: 
  close acquaintances;  
 relatives; or 
  customers you know personally, for example: 
  neighbours, if knowing them could affect the outcome of the interview 
or compromise your position. 
161.  In such situations it may be difficult to be objective and could lead to 
accusations of unfair treatment.  Tell your manager about any customers you 
feel you should not interview. 
Third parties 
162.  Some customers will ask for a third party to be present at their 
interview, for example, if they: 
  need an interpreter due to language or hearing difficulties; 
  lack confidence and need someone there for support; 
  prefer to have a parent present; or 
  wish to have a witness there. 
163.  In such circumstances, explain the purpose and confidentiality of the 
interview in a reassuring and helpful way.  If the customer feels they cannot 
cope alone, do not object to a third party being present.  Refusing to agree to 
a third party could provoke hostility and be counter productive.   
164. Remember, 
however, 
that it is the customer who should receive and 
respond to advice given, direct questions at them, not the third party.  Treat 
the third party with respect and courtesy, but do not let them control the 
interview. 
165.  If a claimants command of English, or Welsh, is not good enough for 
you to deal with them properly or the claimant is deaf, hard of hearing or 
speech impaired and it is in the Department’s interest, you may arrange for 
an an interpreter to be present.  Further information about our Interpreting 
policy is available in the Department’s Interpreting Services Guidance. 
Partners 
166.  In certain circumstances it can be useful to invite the customer's 
partner to the interview.  By partner we mean a person who is married, a civil 
partner of someone or living with someone as if they were married or civil 
partners.   Their presence may allow you to tackle objections to attending a 
programme or taking up a job. 
167.  Also, many customers are concerned about the consequences of 
transferring from benefits to a job or training allowance. They could be 
concerned about the loss of related benefits, for example: 
  Council Tax Benefit; or 
  Housing Benefit.   

168.  Involving the partner directly gives you the opportunity of explaining 
how the transition can be made easier.  It also gives the customer and their 
partner a chance to discuss and fully consider the options available. 
Tape recording interviews 
169.  Exceptionally, a customer may ask for their interview to be recorded. 
Ask them politely why and ensure the customer understands that as an 
alternative to tape recording the interview they can: 
  bring a friend to the interview; 
  take notes during the interview. 
170.  If they insist on recording the interview, ask your manager for 
guidance.  Ordinarily, the manager should not refuse the request.  If you are 
still not confident about undertaking the interview, ask another adviser or your 
manager to do it. 
171.  If you think that the recording may be used for purposes other than the 
customer's own use, seek advice from your District Manager (DM). If your DM 
needs further guidance, they will seek it from regional office. 
Disclosure of information 
172.  When asked to disclose information relating to a customer, only 
disclose that information to the customer or a person who has their written 
consent. There must be no variance of this, except, as in accordance with the 
law, for the prevention of crime, or protection of the rights and freedoms of 
others. 
173.  You may disclose: 
  information to the other member of the couple in the joint claim only 
when that information directly relates to a claim in which both customer 
are or were participants; and 
  details about a disallowance against a customer from a previous claim, 
if that disallowance now affects the joint claim. 

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