Interviewing 101

In addition to dialogue with faculty and other students as well as getting comfortable with writing, interviewing people to be another integral part to doing research.  Though I didn’t jump into interviewing until near the end of my WISR program, I highly recommend it for students to try out early on and for each paper they write.

There are many benefits that can result from interviews.  One is that you get a sense of what is important to other people and how they see things from their perspective.  Others may recommend readings or films to watch or share insights you hadn’t thought of before.  They may guide you on your path if you share the questions you are struggling with.  Since WISR does not have a lot of classes that are prescribed, students have to create their program.  Interviewing can be an essential part of creating structure and depth to an individualized program.  If you find you are not sure what to write, try this as an exercise to see if it helps give you a new perspective.

As an exercise, or Interviewing 101, I recommend taking a topic and asking 3 to 5 people what they think about it.  Then report back to a faculty person, friend or mentor and/or do this in a group or class.  Talk about what other questions you could have asked and consider a followup conversation or consider who else you could talk to.

I’ve found that the most important thing is to jump in and experience talking and listening to people.  To listen, try to keep quiet and hear what the interviewee has to say.  Take notes or a recording if the interviewee doesn’t mind.

You may need to ask them to sign a permission form if you want to quote them or replicate their information in any way.  You might talk to an advisor about getting a sample or to help you develop a form.

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