The best way to interview someone.

Posted on October 11, 2012 by


Recently, my group and I gave a presentation on American identity in our class. We decided to work in three parts, John would research the founding values of America, Matt would look at contemporary sources about recent ideas, and I would interview my Grandma, and research the events and trends which she mentioned.

I would like to talk about my interview with my Grandma on this post.


Before I interviewed her, I had written up some basic questions

such as:

Is there such thing as an American? In a sense of being special compared to someone of a different nationality (such as French, or Japanese)


What defines a person as American in 2012?

But as I began to ask her this type of straight spelled out question, I quickly found that this type of interview did not work. It was too stiff, too unnatural. I found that it worked much better to just run the recorder and just TALK with her. I would ask whatever came to mind, finding the best things to talk about, and much more relevant stuff came out. There was a much better flow. I quickly found that when you speak naturally to someone, their true feelings come out, and they say some REALLY good things.

My grandma spoke about the Vietnam war, our right to speak freely, our freedoms, gay marriage, the great depression, her parents, education, and much more. Before I knew it, my intended ten minute interview had turned into a 35 minute interview.

However, I found that with this natural flow to the interview, the interviewee said things that really seemed real, and that were her own words, not just answers to my words. Because of this natural flow to the interview, using what she said in our presentation was much easier. Here is the link to our presentation.           <(skip to 2:40 to see my part).
The one thing that I learned was that this kind of media is soo powerful that next time I present, I intend to add much more multimedia, especially personal media. It truly makes for a strong presentation.

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