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Introduction to UK immigration law and becoming an immigration advisor
Introduction to UK immigration law and becoming an immigration advisor

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7 Tips for taking instructions in a client interview

There are many different ways to approach client interviewing and taking instructions. You need to find an approach which best suits you and your client’s needs.

You should bear in mind that client interviews are usually undertaken in a set (and usually short) time period, so a key skill is being efficient and effective at drawing out all the necessary information.

If the interview is being conducted through a translator, you need to decide how to deal with conversations between the translator and the client that appear to contain information that is not being passed on to you and may be relevant.

After introductions, there are generally three stages in an interview:

  1. Listening: The client explains what the problem is and what they want (as necessary).
  2. Questioning: The interviewer asks detailed questions to clarify any perceived ambiguities and fill any gaps in the client’s story. This stage may be rounded off with a summary of the major, relevant facts, and repeating the client’s wishes back to them to check that they have been properly understood.
  3. Advising: In the final stage, advice is given to the client. This might be on the practical, legal effects of their problems, and listing possible solutions and their consequences. Alternatively, it could be suggesting a plan of action that may include further enquiries to find out more options.

Tips for interviewing clients

  • If possible, consider the relevant law prior to the interview so that you understand the areas that you will need to consider.
  • Take instructions from a client in person. Some clients find it more difficult to engage over the phone, and getting instructions in person can often be more effective.
  • Get to know your client. Spending time to build a rapport with your client can help you understand what is important to them.
  • Ask your client about the reasons for their instructions. What is important to them? How do they understand the issues? Do they need more information?
  • Explain your role clearly, making sure that your client understands what assistance you can and can’t provide.
  • Manage expectations by being clear with your client about the boundaries of your role.
  • Remain impartial and professional.
  • You will need to know how to deal with family members; remember, you must only take instructions directly from your client.
  • Communicate in a way that your client can best understand. You need to be responsive to your client’s communications preferences so that you can most effectively explain relevant information and their legal options, as well as the consequences of those options. Use an interpreter where required and be mindful of your use of language and jargon.
  • Use your knowledge of relevant law to create further questions that draw out any material facts that you sense your client has knowledge of but are unstated.
  • Give your client time to consider their options and provide instructions.
  • Check your instructions with the client before terminating the interview. If you are uncertain of your instructions, or if they appear to be contradictory or have changed, you can check your instructions several times in different ways, including just before the hearing. Limited instructions can be enough.
  • Once your client has confirmed them, it’s a good idea to test your instructions against the evidence and criteria.
  • At times you may not be able to do as your client has instructed. If you are unable to act, be clear about why.

Taking instructions and interviewing clients are important skills for an immigration adviser. They are also valuable transferable skills that are applicable in many workplaces. Click on the headings below for more detail on each stage of an interview:

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