interviewing community stakeholders

Getting Started

Based on the community or organizational problem that you have identified in your geographic area, identify a social worker or other community advocates, broadly defined, who can provide input on the problem. The social worker or community advocate can be employed in the community or organizational work on a full-time, part-time, or volunteer basis. This person can be any kind of advocate related to the community or organizational issue that you identified. For example, a relevant person might engage in program planning, community organization, community outreach, education, advocacy, or research around a host of social issues, including but not limited to mental health, child welfare, poverty, sexuality, faith-based advocacy, family planning, criminal justice, families, alcohol and other drug abuse, or any other issue in your community.

Upon successful completion of this exercise, you will be able to:

  • Explore injustice and oppression within the social environment at local and global levels. (PO 3)


  • A community stakeholder
  • File: Worksheet: Interview Questions for Community Stakeholders.pdf

Background Information

A stakeholder is defined as an individual with an interest or stake in an issue affecting the community. Stakeholders in the community or organization have important insight about strengths and barriers in the community related to inclusion, equality, and justice. Whether employed or serving on a voluntary basis, social workers and other community advocates have insight into the needs of the community and the viability of macro interventions and other change efforts. Through this stakeholder interview activity, you will refine your knowledge about the issue you identified. You will also begin to assess whether macro social work change efforts will be helpful in addressing your perceived need.


Suggested steps for completing the stakeholder interview:

  1. Identify a social worker or community advocate by researching community agencies that are working toward the community or organizational problem you identified. You will find that many social workers and community advocates are willing to talk with you about their work. The Internet is often an excellent resource for identifying organizations. However, do not neglect to look within your existing social networks.
  2. Develop a list of suitable interview questions that you plan to ask the social worker or community advocate. Start from the Worksheet: Interview Questions for Community Stakeholders.pdf, but then develop questions of your own.
  3. Invite the social worker or community advocate to a one-hour interview. You will need to be flexible with when and where your interview occurs, as some social workers and community advocates get many of these requests. Arrange your schedule to meet their preferences. For example, it may be appropriate for you to invite the social worker or community advocate to coffee near their workplace. Others social workers or community advocates will prefer to meet in their offices.
  4. Complete the interview based on the interview questions you developed. If you wish to record the interview, be sure you obtain permission from the social worker or community advocate. They may have stipulations for recording. For instance, they may allow you to record the interview provided that you do not identify the community organization in any reports. Be flexible and respect the terms of recording.
  5. Remain open to allowing the stakeholder interview questions to change direction based on what you learn. It’s not necessary to script the entire interview.
  6. Remember that the social worker or community advocate may be a future professional contact for you. Be respectful and open.
  7. After completing the interview, personally thank the social worker or community advocate for completing the interview. Follow up with a handwritten note within 48 hours of the interview, thanking him or her for the time devoted to the interview.