Mutual negotiation of the interviewee's competence in interview interaction

Mika Simonen

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterScientificpeer-review


In this chapter cognitive competence is understood from ethnomethodological, gerontological and conversation analytical points-of-view. I argue these understandings intertwine together in interview interaction. Through conversation analysis of video recordings made from clinical assessment interviews (n = 42), I provide empirical evidence on how ‘being a competent member’ is an observable and reportable achievement in interaction. The analysis focuses on interview talk that directly topicalizes competence and shows how participants design their turns-of-talk differently depending on the assessment of recipient’s competence. While receiving responses interviewers may take part into the negotiation of interviewees’ competence with three practices that emerged in the data analysis: interviewers may (1) upgrade respondents’ tentatively positive answers, (2) disagree with respondents’ negative or reserved response toward positive outcome, and (3) apologize for questioning competent respondents. These actions allow interviewers to modulate speaker pressure, which in turn has effects on respondents’ competence.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationEvaluating Cognitive Competences in Interaction
EditorsGitte Rasmussen, Catherine E. Brouwer, Dennis Day
Number of pages24
PublisherJohn Benjamins
Publication date2012
ISBN (Print)978 90 272 5630 0
ISBN (Electronic)978 90 272 7333 8
Publication statusPublished - 2012
MoE publication typeA3 Book chapter

Fields of Science

  • 5141 Sociology

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