You may want to record the interview, so remember to start by asking permission to do so. Then, you may want to keep the following items in mind:
- Help the person relax and feel comfortable before you begin your questions.
- Keep other people from the room so your interviewee is not distracted. Turn off the TV and silence phones, too, so neither of you feel compelled to respond to texts or calls in the middle of your interview.
- If you are working with an older person, limit the interview to an agreed-upon time period and then stick to it so your person doesn't tire out. If needed, schedule a second interview at a later date.
- Always ask open-ended questions. Begin your questions with those trusty "5 W's and an H": Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How. Stay away from questions that can only be answered by yes or no unless that's all you want for an answer.
- Be careful not to put words in anyone's mouth. Phrase your questions carefully so you do not suggest the answers you want to hear.
- Be sensitive to your interviewee. If he/she seems reluctant to talk about certain subjects, stay away from them. Maybe try again another time, if it's important.
- Do not disagree with an answer that is given you, even if you know it's not correct. Arguing may shut down your interviewee.
- If a person wants to enlarge upon a subject, encourage them to do so.
- Finally, use visual aids such as old photographs, letters, and family memorabilia to stimulate memories.
Happy holidays to everyone. Your blogger/editor is taking time off to be with her own family and will be back with you in early January.