Conducting Interviews with Class
Grammar Girl offers great information on grammar and conducting things like informational interviews.
Interviews are a great way to gain deeper insight into your topic. With that said, conducting interviews sometimes requires more prior-planning than other types of research.
The goal of this page is to offer some advice on conducting interviews as well as links to sites that can help you prepare them.Step One:
- Determine who you'd like to interview or what kind of expert you need to locate.
- You should know enough about your topic to know who will be helpful in deepening your understanding.
- Develop a list of questions you would like to ask and keep it short and to the point.
- Keep in mind that the people you intend to interview are going to be busy with their own lives. If they choose to help you, they will be doing this out of their own generosity of spirit.
- Keep questions to the important things that will help support your thesis statement and ultimate research goals.
- Make sure all questions are polite. If your topic is controversial, your purpose is not to engage the interviewee in a debate but rather to understand his or her point of view.
- Locate a person to interview and contact him or her in a preliminary manner, offering the following information:
- Who you are
- What the purpose of your interview is (relate to thesis)
- The general reason for your interview (paper for school)
- How much time (approximately) you would like from them
- Ask about their availability for interviews and preference for how to conduct (email or phone or in-person if person is local)
- Ask for permission in writing to quote someone, use email responses, or taped interview information (See Dr. L. Kip Wheeler's excellent site for further information.)
- Follow-through on the agreed upon date, either in person, on the phone, or via email.
- If meeting in person, make sure that people know where you are going and that you meet in a fairly public, distraction-free location (public libraries can be good for these sorts of interviews). DO NOT AGREE TO GO TO SOMEONE'S HOME ALONE OR TO THEIR OFFICE AFTER IT HAS CLOSED.
- Make sure you are dressed presentably. Think job versus school.
- Be prepared to take notes or record the information, since if you are actively listening, you may lose some of the details.
- Find out if you may contact them for follow-up questions or clarification in the future. Make sure you have the spellings of all names correct.
- Make sure the person you interviewed knows how to get in touch with you later.
- Document your interview in MLA format. NoodleBib does have a tool for this.
- Send a thank-you card to anyone present for the interview and offer to send them a copy of your final paper if they are interested.
- Be sure to cite any ideas you got from your interviews in your paper.
Some good resources to read for help in formulating interviews:
Allen, Moira. "Conducting Interviews." Writing-World.com. 2001. 22 Jan 2007. Web.
McNamara, Carter. "General Guidelines for Conducting Interviews." Free Management Library. 2006. 22 Jan 2007. Web.
Wheeler, L. Kip. "Research Assignment #3: Conducting an Interview." Dr. Wheeler's Homepage at Carson-Newman. 2007. 22 Jan 2007 <http://web.cn.edu/kwheeler/researchassignment3.html>. Web.
Some good resources for conducting surveys:
"Writing Guides: Survey Research." Writing @ CSU. Colorado State University. 2007. 26 Feb 2007 .