Developmental Testing Service: Clinical interviewing:

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On this page, we discuss how to deliver a Lectical Assessment as a clinical interview.

Sometimes, our customers, rather than administering our assessments on line, decide to conduct interviews. This is an option when assessments are being delivered to non-English speaking clients or clients whose writing skills are compromised by learning disabilities or lack of formal education.

Before you choose this option, please contact us. We will want to make certain that you are aware of all of the relevant procedures.


  • Guidelines
  • Fairness
  • Example
  • Translation

Why, why, why

The clinical interviewing process required for Lectical Assessments may be different from those you have learned for coaching or counseling. This is because they have a different purpose: to reveal the structure of respondents' thinking. This structure is evident in the justifications or arguments they use to defend their judgments. Justifications answer the question, "Why?" We cannot score a performance if there are too few justifications.

There are a number of ways to ask, "Why?", as you will see when you watch the sample interview shown under the "example" tab.

Basic rules

  • Always read the dilemma out loud and ask if the respondent has any questions about the dilemma.
  • Ask the questions as they are written on the interview protocol.
  • Warn the respondent that you will be asking, "Why?" a LOT.
  • Write down the judgments/assertions made by the respondent as s/he speaks, then ask why each judgment/assertion is important/relevant/appropriate.
  • It is a good idea to keep asking why until the respondent starts repeating him/her self. This way you can be certain that you have done a good job capturing their reasoning.
  • If respondents start to tell stories about what they have done in the past rather than explaining the logic behind their judgments, try to steer them back to explaining why. If they keep telling stories, that may be all they can do, but it is important to give them a chance to try to make a logical argument.
  • If the respondent provides an answer that indicates s/he may not understand the question, restate the question and ask him/her to put it in his/her own words before answering it again.


You may be concerned that the probing you are asked to do when conducting a clinical interview provides an unfair advantage to clients who are interviewed versus those who take the assessment online. We do not think this should be a problem as long as you make sure that clients who are taking the assessment online understand the importance of following the instructions for each assessment.

It is not possible for respondents to get scores that are higher than their capability because they have been asked to explain their reasoning, but it is possible for respondents to get scores that are lower than their capability because they have not had an adequate opportunity to explain their reasoning. This is why it is important to make certain every respondent is repeatedly asked to explain his or her judgments.

Side note: Providing coherent justifications is an important life skill. Lectical Assessments provide an opportunity to practice this skill.


In the example video, Theo demonstrates how to deliver the LDMA by interviewing Amy (our office manager). Note the different ways in which Theo asks, "why." Also, note her willingness to ask "dumb" questions—questions that you might think have obvious answers. Finally, notice that she makes sure to exhaust Amy's repertoire by asking "why" until Amy repeats herself.


Translation of Lectical Assessment dilemmas and questions should be undertaken by a professional translator, and vetted by a second translator. The assessment protocol will need to be adjusted for "live" interviewing. Contact DTS for help with this process.

Translation of interviews should also be undertaken by a professional translator, but vetting is less critical.


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