Before the Interview
Make an appointment with the person. If conducting a phone interview, tell the person how long you think the interview might take, and ask if you need to call back at a more convenient time.
Learn as much as you can about the topic before the interview. The more you know, the better your questions will be.
Learn a little bit about the person before the interview.
- Have a list of questions prepared ahead of time. Remember to consult the original set of questions you were trying to answer for your research.
- Start with an easy question, one the person might enjoy answering. This gets things rolling and might make you and the interviewee more comfortable.
- Ask questions that require more than a simple yes/no answer. Ask open-ended questions (e.g., Why…How….Describe what it’s like to…)
- Work from your list, but be prepared to ask a question that’s not on your list if it seems right.
During the Interview
- Be on time, prepared with pen, paper, questions, and anything else you might need.
- Be polite. Remember that he or she is helping you.
- Don’t interrupt. Pause at the end of answers to give the person time to add anything else.
- Let your questions flow from the person’s answers. Don’t worry about sticking to the order of your questions if the flow of the conversation requires it.
- Use short-hand, symbols, and abbreviations. Skip unimportant words. Notes are to help you remember what was said, not to help you repeat something back exactly.
- (shrthnd, abbrev., skip unimportant. Notes à remembr, not repeat exact).
- If you want to quote something exactly, place it in quotation marks. If it’s important and you’re not sure you have it right, it’s okay to read it back to the person to make sure you recorded it right.
- Take a a minute or two to look over your notes at the end of the interview to make sure they’re clear and that you haven’t skipped any important questions.
- Soon after the interview, review your notes. Make sure you can read them.
- Rewrite your notes, organizing and clarifying.
After the Interview
- Write a thank-you note to the person. You may want to offer a copy of your final paper, too.
- Be sure to include the interview in your bibliography.