Interviews VS Professional Discussions in End-Point Assessments
You may have already seen our blog on the different types of assessment methods within the new EPA standards, where we touched on observation, practical, test and project-based assessments. Interviews or professional discussions are mainly used in discussion-based assessments. They are a great way to assess both the theoretical and technical knowledge that the apprentice has.
There is often some confusion between how an interview differs from a professional discussion. So, we are going to look at both of these in more detail now. They are both commonly used within the End Point Assessment; if you are looking to become an End-Point Assessor, it is important that you understand the difference between the two.
What Are These Two Assessment Methods?
Interviews and professional discussions are both conducted on a one-to-one basis between the Apprentice and the IEPA. The idea behind these two methods of assessment is to gain an insight into whether the apprentice meets the KSBs (knowledge, skills and behaviours) set out in the assessment plan.
The main difference between an interview and a professional discussion is who takes the lead. In an interview, the Assessor will be responsible for leading the conversation and asking the questions to the apprentice. However in a professional discussion, whilst the Assessor will introduce the assessment, it is expected that the apprentice will then take the lead.
Many End Point Assessment Organisations are requesting that interviews and professional discussions are conducted remotely during the current climate. Luckily with the rise in video conferencing technology such as Google Meet, Zoom & Teams, this is much more feasible than it would have been pre-pandemic.
As an Assessor, you will start the interview or professional discussion by introducing yourself to the apprentice. You will then let them know what to expect during the assessment. It is your responsibility to make the apprentice feel at ease. It’s important to give the apprentice the opportunity to ask any questions they may have before starting. This pre-assessment briefing does not count towards the overall timings of the assessment, so take your time with it.
Preparing For Interviews & Professional Discussions
There are a few steps you can take before the interview or professional discussion to ensure the apprentice is prepared in the best possible way:
- Check that the apprentice has received email confirmation that states when the interview or discussion is booked, and this has been added to their diary.
- Ask the apprentice to check they have the correct computer equipment and software. Is their internet connection reliable? Do they have a webcam? Do they have Zoom installed on their computer?
- Is the apprentice able to book a quiet room where they are not going to be disturbed?
- Let the apprentice know how long the interview/discussion is, and how many questions they can expect to answer. This will allow them to gauge how long they have to answer each question.
- Ensure the apprentice is familiar with the assessment criteria. Ideally they have some examples prepared of how they have met the criteria within their apprenticeship.
Sometimes an interview or discussion is used to back up a project-based method of assessment; such as a portfolio or practical project. In this instance, the apprentice should focus their answers around this. If they need to bring in evidence from other areas in order to demonstrate how they have met the assessment criteria, that is absolutely fine.
Mock Interview or Discussion
As an Independent End-Point Assessor, the assessment itself will be the first point of contact you will have with the apprentice. However, there is nothing to say that the apprentice couldn’t have a mock interview with their training provider prior to their EPA. This would mean that the apprentice would be more prepared with what to expect during the interview or discussion. Not onlt that, but they will also be familiar with the general format.
They will then start to understand some of the more subtle tactics. For example, if the Assessor tries to move the conversation on, then the apprentice has probably provided enough information to both answer the question and meet the assessment criteria.
We hope this has helped to distinguish the difference between interviews and professional discussions, and how you can best prepare your learner for these types of assessment methods. If you would like any further information on anything we have written about, please call us on 01205 805155.
Steve is a Chartered Manager and a Fellow of the Chartered Management Institute.
He provides Educational Consultancy to the 19+ sector as well as being an Assessor, IQA, EPA and Digital Marketing Professional. When not doing any of these he finds time, every now and then, to write blogs and articles.