Conducting a Proper Interview

Mysterious and Miraculous

Amazon - A collection of non-fiction testimonies from individuals who claim to have experienced, or observed mysterious and miraculous events, from telekinesis, to angel encounters to dying and living to tell about it. All but 30% of the earnings fro
Amazon - A collection of non-fiction testimonies from individuals who claim to have experienced, or observed mysterious and miraculous events, from telekinesis, to angel encounters to dying and living to tell about it. All but 30% of the earnings fro

Interview for a Good Story

It has been my pleasure to be involved in the Mysterious and Miraculous book project, particularly because the profit is being used for the K9s for Wounded Warriors. I must admit that it has also been very enjoyable to write these stories.

During this process, I learned of a story from my mother that I had never heard before. So, I have written some true stories that involve my family, which are surprising, and now I have written two stories that involved interviewing other people. There is skill involved in doing a proper interview to achieve the best results.

Important Considerations

To conduct a proper interview there are some basic things you need to know about the individual, including their proper name, where they live and when the incident being discussed occurred. Also, how they felt about the incident is very important, particularly if it happened within their family.

Certainly, before conducting the individual, the interviewee must be aware that the story will be published, and I asked permission to use their real names. If they don’t want to use their real name that is fine as the story can still be written with their permission.

Interview

Source

My First Interview

The first interview I conducted was face to face with a friend. I had a legal pad size tablet to write down all the details because I know how easy it is to get home and forget some of the small things that are pertinent to the story.

Since I knew this first person quite well I didn’t ask as many initial personal questions. I took careful notes as I listened to her tell the story. I wanted her to tell the whole story first before I asked a lot of questions, so I didn’t interrupt her train of thought. I watched her carefully to observe her expressions, and chose not to rush her.

When she had finished telling me this very unusual story I started asking some questions, waiting for a definite pause before asking my next question. The questions included:

  • What year did this occur?
  • Tell me about the house you lived in at that time.
  • Did this affect anyone else in your family?
  • I ask her how she felt when this incident happened and how she feels about it now.

Many people do interviews using tape recorders, but I felt more comfortable with my friend just using a yellow tablet and pen.

Yellow Pad for Notes

A computer or tape recorder also work well.
A computer or tape recorder also work well.

My Telephone Interview

My second interview was with a relative of a friend, and this is someone I had not met before. This lady, named Marilyn, does not live close to me, so a phone interview was a necessity. This time I started a conversation to learn a little bit about this person before I actually started the interview. I wanted her to be comfortable and open with me, so the conversation worked really well. As we talked we found we had some things in common. We talked, laughed and forged a bit of a friendship. I again used my yellow tablet and took copious notes as this lady talked.

Marilyn knew why I was calling, as my friend asked permission ahead of time. It would be a mistake to call someone for a personal story without setting up some type of appointment beforehand.

She was quite excited about telling her story, which was also very fascinating. She was very open with me, which made the interview process much easier.

As this lady has had some very unique experiences, I did ask some initial questions. I asked her when these events first occurred, and she recounted her age and all the details. Then, she continued to tell me several things that happened to her over her lifetime. Again, I was a good listener and just let her talk. When she finished I had several questions, and I had left some blank spaces in my notes in areas where I knew I would need more details.

Following the Interviews

I started at the top of my notes and asked questions to clarify some statements, and she willingly filled in all the details. This interview was actually fun because as she told the stories she laughed frequently, as did I.

After I had completed these interviews, it was very easy to write stories about their experiences. I had listened carefully and I had taken good notes, and that makes all the difference. I find that many people really enjoy telling others personal stories if that other person is not opinionated.

Giving the interviewee some encouragement goes a long way. I found the interviewees actually control the interview during their storytelling, and I believe I probably got more details by listening carefully. There is plenty of time at the end to clarify statements are asked questions.

I thanked them both very much for their time and for sharing the stories.

© 2013 Pamela Oglesby

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Comments 43 comments

Kathryn Stratford profile image

Kathryn Stratford 3 years ago from Manchester, Connecticut

I was thinking of interviewing family members at some point, and it is handy to hear how your own interviewing went, and the tips you have provided. It sounds like you had a great experience, and learned a lot. Thanks for sharing this wit us, and have a great day.

~ Kathryn


billybuc profile image

billybuc 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

Excellent information. I just conducted my first interview this past weekend and it went well although I admit to being nervous. I could have used this hub about four days ago. :)


femmeflashpoint 3 years ago

Pam,

Thanks so much for the wonderful information on interviewing!

It's loads of fun when the topic is as fascinating as the stories coming in for the Mysterious & Miraculous series, and being prepared in knowing what to ask, to fill in the gaps, for any interview is the first step in ensuring it's a fun event rather than a stressful one.

Although I use my Android's sound recorder to conduct interviews with these days, I still rely heavily on the old fashioned pen and pan and carry one with me, as well as my camera nearly every time I leave the house.

For someone who is considering to do interviews, it really is loads of fun and contrary to what other journalists might pass around, it's not rocket science and something nearly everyone can do and become adept at.

So, I sincerely hope loads of folks see this and put it to good use for whatever types of stories they're considering doing interviews for. Once they get just a couple of them under their belt, they'll be ownin' it like a boss before they know it. :)

femme


marcoujor profile image

marcoujor 3 years ago from Jeffersonville PA

Maybe my bias is showing but I believe nurses are some of the finest writers and interviewers...and you, my girlfriend, Pamela, are a perfect example.

This is solid, helpful and hopefully will encourage more writers to take the plunge...especially in gathering Mysterious and Miraculous stories for upcoming volumes in our series.

Thank you for being such an active and beautiful Legacy Scribe.

Love,

Maria


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 3 years ago from United States Author

Kathryn, I really did learn a lot and II'm glad you enjoyed the hub. I appreciiate your comments.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 3 years ago from United States Author

Billy, I guess its better late than never. Now that you have done one it will get easier also. Thanks for your comments.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 3 years ago from United States Author

Femme, The camera is a good idea. I hope people will realize it is not that difficult. Thanks for your comments.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 3 years ago from United States Author

Maria, Nurses have some advantage I think as they have been talking to people about problems throughout their career. I was often surpirsed at how open many people are. I appreciate your comments very much. Love to you.


tobusiness profile image

tobusiness 3 years ago from Bedfordshire, U.K

My first thoughts were that I would be awful at interviewing, but you are right about nurses having an advantage. We do interviews on a daily basis, interacting with people from all walks of life. this is a very useful and informative article, voting up and sharing.


Happyboomernurse profile image

Happyboomernurse 3 years ago from South Carolina

Hi Pam,

This article, and also the comments, are full of useful information about preparing for, and conducting interviews. It's wonderful that you are sharing your interview techniques with others, not only in case they, too, want to make story submissions to the Mysterious & Miraculous Book series, but if they want to write true stories for hubs, magazines, memoir or book anthologies.

I do agree with Maria that nurses generally have good interviewing techniques as they are used to interviewing patients about their medical and social backgrounds. However, nurses might not realize this skill can be transferred to conducting an interview for a true story. You've given them all the info they need here, in order to do so.

Your story contributions to Mysterious & Miraculous Books I and II are well written, fascinating and entertaining, and it's wonderful that you have been so actively involved in writing and promoting the Mysterious & Miraculous series.

Voted up across the board except for funny, and shared.

Sending You a Bouquet of Hub Hugs & Love,

Gail


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 3 years ago from United States Author

Jo, I'll bet you would be just fine. Thank you so much for your comments.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 3 years ago from United States Author

Gail, I have enjoyed writing these stories, and I love that it is for such a good cause. Thank you so much for your comments I think you are right that nurses and probably other "people type" professions probably can do good interviews.

I love the big bouquet! Hugs and love to you also Gail.


Sunshine625 profile image

Sunshine625 3 years ago from Orlando, FL

Hi Pam, I appreciated your story in Mysterious & Miraculous. I just finished reading it and I was hooked. You are correct, it's for a great cause. Thank you for the interview tips. Since I'm known as the queen of questions I thought interviewing would be a breeze...not so much when you are on the spot and not just casual conversation. Oh my!


always exploring profile image

always exploring 3 years ago from Southern Illinois

Great tips on interviewing someone. Keeeping a note pad is an excellent idea. Thank's for sharing...


Jackie Lynnley profile image

Jackie Lynnley 3 years ago from The Beautiful South

This is very interesting. I have always been a good listener but I have never done an interview. Up and sharing.


RTalloni profile image

RTalloni 3 years ago from the short journey

You offer some good points on conducting and interview here. Being a part of the project must be very interesting! It would be extra-special to come away from the interviews having a new friend.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 3 years ago from United States Author

You commentgs are always a ray of sunshine. I think you would probably be quite good at doing interviews. Thank you so much for your comments.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 3 years ago from United States Author

Ruby, I am glad you found this hub useful and I appreciate your comments.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 3 years ago from United States Author

Jackie, Being a good listener is at least half of the battle. I appreciate the comments and the share. Thanks.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 3 years ago from United States Author

RTalloni, Thank you so much for your comments. I did feel like I had made a new fried on that second interview even though she doesn't live close, I hope to meet her in person some day. I appreciate your comments.


Eiddwen profile image

Eiddwen 3 years ago from Wales

Interesting and very useful Pamela.

Eddy.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 3 years ago from United States Author

Eddy, I am glad you found it useful Thanks for the comments.


AliciaC profile image

AliciaC 3 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

I've never heard of the Mysterious and Miraculous book project. It sounds very interesting, and I like the fact that it's raising money for a worthy cause. Thanks for sharing the useful interview techniques, Pamela.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 3 years ago from United States Author

Alicia, This book is written by several people on Hubpages and can be purchased on Hubpages for $5. It is very interesting. Thanks for your comments.


DDE profile image

DDE 3 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

Conducting an Proper Interview you have created a helpful and most useful hub on this topic, informative and interesting.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 3 years ago from United States Author

DDE, I'm glad you found the hub useful. Thanks so much for your comments.


Genna East profile image

Genna East 3 years ago from Massachusetts, USA

Excellent hub, Pamela. The skills are not only in listening, but in taking very good notes and culling these into an excellent interview product that reflects the interviewee. You have these talents in abundance. Not everyone does.


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 3 years ago from New York

Interviews aren't as easy as some people think. The right questions get the right answers and help with whatever you're writing. Your hub is a perfect example of how to go about conducting an interview!

Wounded Warriors is close to my heart and I'm so glad the profits are going to K9s for Wounded Warriors. Thank you for sharing.

Voted up, useful, and very interesting.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 3 years ago from United States Author

Genna, You summed it up quite nicely. I appreciate the kind words and your comments.

Jo, Thank you so much for your comments and I am glad you enjoyed the hub.


drbj profile image

drbj 3 years ago from south Florida

Your interviewing information is concise and comprehensive, Pamela. It becomes more fun than most people realize since folks enjoy talking about themselves and their experiences to someone who is really listening. Probably because we don't find a conscientious listening audience often enough. :)


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 3 years ago from United States Author

drbj, I imagine you are exactly right. I appreciate your comments.


pstraubie48 profile image

pstraubie48 3 years ago from sunny Florida

This is such a good idea. I have not written a story from an interview per se but think I shall give this a try.

I have conducted many interviews (as well as been interviewed) and this is very well stated and will be helpful as an interviewer or interviewee.

Have a lovely day.

Angels are on the way to you ps


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 3 years ago from United States Author

Patorcia, I think it might give you some new idesa for writing stories. Thanks for the comments and angels. Angels are being sent back to you, and I hope you enjoy your day also.


bravewarrior profile image

bravewarrior 3 years ago from Central Florida

Excellent advice, Pam. I've found it's also helpful to have questions prepared beforehand, especially if you're a bit green at being the interviewer (as I am!). Putting the subject at ease and letting them talk usually fills in the blanks before you even ask questions.

I can't wait to read your stories in Book II!


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 3 years ago from United States Author

Barbara, Question prepared ahead of time is a good idea. I agree that putting the person at ease is essential to getting good feedback. Thanks for your comments.


teaches12345 profile image

teaches12345 3 years ago

Good advice, Pamela. I have interviewed so many people over the years and I have to say that knowing how to get them to share relative information is key - keeping notes is very wise!


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 3 years ago from United States Author

Dianna, I appreciate your comments, especially as you have been in this position many times.


Faith Reaper profile image

Faith Reaper 3 years ago from southern USA

Excellent article dear Pamela. Interviewing is not an easy task to say the least. I work in the legal profession in my real life : ) and interviews are tough, and even harder than that is having to transcribe an interview where the interviewer allows the person to ramble on and on with being in control of the interview ... long painful hours to the ears!

I am so thrilled of this wonderful project here, especially that it is helping our veterans.

Up and more and sharing

God bless, Faith Reaper


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 3 years ago from United States Author

Faith, I would think interviews in the legal profession might be a little more difficult than the interviews I did to get a story for a book. I am exceied about our project also. Thanks so much for your comments. God Bless.


Pro-Hubber profile image

Pro-Hubber 2 years ago from Florida

very useful and insightful hub. Thank you


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 2 years ago from United States Author

Pro-hubber, Thank you so much for your comments.


PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 16 months ago from Dallas, Texas

Your insightful tips are suitable for anyone who has considered interviewing a subject. One of the things that seems key to success is the ability to listen to a person without interrupting. You did a great job in conveying this message and in the stories you wrote for the Mysterious and Miraculous book. I loved reading the tales and learning more about people's experiences while supporting a good cause.


Pamela99 profile image

Pamela99 16 months ago from United States Author

PegCole, I think listening to people without interrupting is so important. I ave struggled with this problem in the past with family as we all seem to talk at once as times. But, in the work environment your are right on the target. I am glad you enjoyed my other stories. That was really fun, and I love what everyone wrote. Thanks so much for your comments.

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