Training and Development: Critical Incident Interview Guide

Introduction and Purpose

Describe the purpose of the interview. "We want to learn more about how you make decisions in your job. Take as much time as needed to respond thoroughly and accurately."

Identify Incidents

Have the employee discuss difficult decisions that they have to make on their job. These are decisions that may have or would likely have resulted in an error or critical incident.


For each incident identified, describe the timeline of events that led to that incident. Describe the incident from start to finish. Re-construct the events to form a timeline that establishes the sequence of each event.

Identify Decision Points

Identify specific decision points on the timeline.

Decision Point Analysis

For each decision point, consider the following:
  1. Errors If an error occurred, what was it?
  2. Optimal How should the decision have been made?
  3. Ambiguous What information could have helped make the decision. Was any information missing?
  4. Error Avoidance Could the error have been avoided? If so, how?
  5. Environmental Factors What aspects of your environment influenced your decision?
  6. Expert / Novice Do (or would) experts and novices differ in their decision making?
  7. Information What information was used in making the decision? How was it obtained?
  8. Training Others If you were training new employees, what would you teach them about this kind of incident?

Example Questionnaire