by Melissa Wyse
Last week, we talked about the benefits of using an interview as a research source. We also talked about how to select an interview subject. (You can check out that blog post here.) Now we’re back with some tips to help you though the interview process.
Before the interview:
1. Start early. Your interview subject probably has a busy schedule. So contact him or her well in advance of your paper’s due date.
2. Do some preliminary research before the interview. Learn about your topic, and if you’re interviewing someone well-known, learn about him or her, too. If your interview subject has been interviewed before, read or watch his or her previous interviews.
3. Prepare a list of questions before the interview.
During the interview:
1. You'll probably find that you move among your interview questions, sometimes asking them in order, sometimes adding in a follow-up question, and sometimes skipping a question altogether because your interview subject already addressed that topic.
2. Remember, after the interview is over, you’re going to want to be able to quote or paraphrase accurately. If possible, tape record your interview. You also may want to take some notes during the interview itself—just make sure you look up from your notebook now and then so you can make eye contact.
3. Be polite. You can ask your interview subject intelligent and thought-provoking questions, but do so politely, and with an aim of understanding their perspective. Your genuine desire to understand will help your interview subjects trust and open up to you.
After the interview:
1. Immediately after the interview is over, make very detailed notes. Do this in the car or on the Metro ride home, or even at the nearest coffee shop. But do it immediately, while the conversation is still fresh in your mind. Even if you’ve tape recorded and taken some rough notes during the interview, it’s always a good idea to take detailed notes after it’s over.
2. Remember to send your interview subject a thank you note.