Elmhurst third graders interview the Camara sisters.

People are a wonderful source of information, but you have to prepare before you even begin to ask questions.

Before the Interview:

1. Research as much about the person or topic as you can. When my students interviewed an organic farmer, we had to know what was involved in organic farming. When we interviewed a stonemason, we researched how a stone wall was put together and what stones you might find in our walls.
2. Prepare a list of questions for the interview. You need not follow the list exactly because other questions may come up as you proceed with the questioning.
3. Put the simplest questions first and ask more complicated or thoughtful questions more toward the end.
4. Write questions that are “open ended” and can’t be answered by “yes” or “no.”
5. Don’t ask “two part” questions. Plan to ask one question first, listen for the answer and then follow up with the second question.
6. Interviews are better when you have sent the interviewee a list of your questions ahead of time. This gives them time to think about things and it takes away some of the fear that they will be asked a question that they might find uncomfortable. We have had some of our interviewees check with other family members for answers or bring photos to the interview.

At the Interview:
1. Treat the interviewee with respect.
2. Introduce yourself and thank them for sharing with you. You might share why you are interested in the story of the person or this particular topic. When we interviewed the Camara sisters we told them that we were interested in knowing what it was like to grow up on Glen Farm.
3. Don’t try to take notes – record the interview in some way. You might use a tape recorder, video recorder or even use a notes function on a cell phone.
4. Test the recorder to make sure it is working. Once you know the recorder is working, give your full attention to the interviewee. Let the recorder run.
5. Speak slowly, clearly and loud enough to be heard. The tone of your voice will set the tone for the interviewee.
6. After you ask a question, stop…and wait for an answer, even if you have silence for a while. Interviewees sometimes need some time to get their thoughts together.
7. Don’t hurry them or cut them off or they will think that what they say isn’t important to you.
8. Reflect back on which questions gave you the most information.