Interviewing, Purpose and Approaches
Interviews are kind of like making surveys: everyone thinks they are easy to set up, that you “just do them.” But there is so much preparation and research that goes into them before you ever talk with anyone. Hence, my (yet again), homework dump of reading materials. To my students’ credit, it became evident during our class discussion that they had indeed read the material as well as thought about them. My favorite of these readings is Bonne’s no-nonsense list that I found on her desk. It covers in broad strokes what most of the other readings spent going into greater detail for different scenarios and ideas. I tried to introduce to students to a range of styles as well as common sense (but often overlooked) tips and techniques for a successful interview. Even more valuable, was Bonne’s advice during class where she brought her years of experience to bear. Again, borrowing from The New York Times, I reinforced these ideas with this assignment.
If you’ve been paying attention, you’ll notice that I keep making use of the word elements. And I really keep using it with my students. It’s because those are the elements for which they will be graded based on their use, arrangement, clarity, etc. It’s all for their podcast toolbox. Being able to identify these different elements will help students to notice them in other podcasts and then, hopefully, ask how they are being used, so that when it comes time for creating their own podcasts, they be able to see it in these terms in order to build a plan rather than being overwhelmed before they even begin.
But there is nothing like actually doing an interview to prepare a person. Originally, this was supposed to be a homework assignment, but more useful, we ended up doing it live in class. There was no recording equipment. I just wanted them to focus on being both an interviewer and an interviewee, to pay attention to the different types of questions being asked, and which prompted responses beyond the yes/no variety. Understanding how it feels to be interviewed would also help them empathize with their own interviewees and prepare for the array of possible situations. Admittedly, this was a silly assignment, but it highlighted the need to actually consider what each question is doing, not only its purpose to elicit content, but how it elicits that content so that can make better decisions that ultimately server their project.