A naturalistic study was undertaken of 36 video and audio taped interviews made by 7 different psychiatric trainees. The interviews studied were those conducted in the ordinary course of clinic work for diagnostic and therapeutic planning purposes by trainees when first seeing the parent or parents of a child newly referred to a psychiatric clinic. It was found that a directive style with specific probes and requests for detailed descriptions was associated with the obtaining of better-quality factual information than that associated with a more free-style approach. Interviewers who talked less and who made use of open questions and checks tended to have more talkative informants. Double questions were liable to result in ambiguous answers, but multiple-choice questions did not appear to cause distortion and in some circumstances might be helpful.