Tip Sheet

Interview Tips

Interview Basics

Forms for the Preferences for Everyday Living Inventory (PELI)-Mid Level and PELI-Full assessment include brief instructions. This tip sheet offers additional guidance for training staff and volunteers who will conduct the PELI preference interview. While a full PELI interview typically takes 30 minutes in one sitting, a series of three 10-minute interview sessions over several days can accomplish the same goals. PELI interviews provide an opportunity to get to know your residents and to build insight, relationships, respect and trust.

Training Interviewers

The champion for PELI in your community may serve as a “coach” for those who will conduct preference interviews. Useful training topics to consider are:

  • the purpose of PELI interviews
  • scheduling procedures
  • materials to have on hand
  • interviewing techniques and tips

Ideally, the champion would first conduct a PELI interview with a resident while the trainee observes. Next, the trainee would conduct a resident interview while the champion observes and then privately offers constructive feedback.  If staff time for interviews is limited, consider training volunteers to conduct preference interviews. Volunteers are likely to find that leading these interviews offers a meaningful and rewarding way to connect with residents.

Interviewing Tips

Setting & conditions

  • Select a comfortable, private setting.
  • Sit so that the resident can see your face. Minimize glare by directing light sources away from the resident’s face.
  • Make sure the resident can hear you. Residents should use their usual hearing aids or other communication devices. If the resident can’t hear you, try headphones or a hearing amplifier.
  • Print the last page from the PELI, which is a list of the response options printed in large font; hand it to the resident to use during the interview.

Questions to ask, interactions

  • If a resident says he or she can no longer do a particular preference, say: “I want to know about every activity that would be important to you if you could do it with assistance or support.” Select Important, but can’t do or no choice when the resident indicates that the topic is important, but he or she is physically unable to participate, or has no choice about participating while staying in the nursing home due to nursing home resources or scheduling. 
  • Be careful not to “put words in the mouth” of the interviewee.
  • Give each person time to collect their thoughts and explain preferences.
  • Offer prompts, as needed: “Is there anything you’d like to add?” “Can you say more about that?”
  • Be sure to thank the nursing home resident, family member or friend at the end of each interview session. Let them know that the information will be used to help plan their care and daily activities.

Don’t approach the preference interview as if it’s a task for the interviewer or the resident. Preference interviews are a meaningful opportunity to personalize care and focus time and resources that will help residents feel happy, cared for and comfortable with daily life.

About the Series

This is one in a series of Tip Sheets on using the Preferences for Everyday Living Inventory (PELI) to improve person-centered care. Topics include: How to Get Started, Interview Tips, Working with Proxies, Helping Staff Engage, Integrating Preferences into Care Plans and more. View our full series of Tip Sheets.

Have questions or comments? Please e-mail us at PELI-Can@miamioh.edu or call our helpline at 513-529-3605.

Katherine Abbott, Ph.D. & Kimberly Van Haitsma, Ph.D. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. Based on a work at https://preferencebasedliving.com/. To view a copy of this license, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/4.0/.