Before the Interview: preparation.Posted: April 29, 2016
Initially when arranging the interview with a science graduate from Royal Holloway, I was excited and eager for it to occur. Now however a few days before our first meeting, I admit that it appears to be a daunting prospect. My main concern is on whether or not I can provide an atmosphere that puts the interviewee in as comfortable position as possible to talk to a complete stranger about her life. I don’t imagine that my questions would put her in a position which she feels unable to be relaxed around me, but my main concern is that I will not appear as professional as I possibly can as this is my first ever oral history interview. A slight disadvantage I feel is that the only interviewing I have ever done has been in a radio programme context, which is far more journalistic and far less engaging with the person interviewed. It has given me a slight feeling of reassurance that I have previous experience, which is actually untrue given their different contexts. I feel it is therefore important to forget about that given situation and try and focus more on being attentive, open and competent with my interviewee. I am after all being allowed into her home and therefore life for two occasions, to ask her questions that can be seen as very personal. It isn’t something I feel I am taking lightly, especially as my first time doing so.
Hopefully this interview will be engaging for the both of us and the questions I have prepared will be extensive enough to give each parties scope to work with. Despite being (I believe) a relatively confident and friendly person, I have apparently a dislike for awkward silences, and so do my best to fill them, something which I hope I will not endeavour to do during any point in the interview while I try to provide questions or she answers. I also hope to be able to think on my feet and respond to the information she provides with questions that I have been unable to think of before the interview, as there will undoubtedly be topics which are discussed that I have not thought of or know much on.
Finally, as selfish as it may sound, I hope the interview provides me with a relatively easy subject to work with. A big concern of mine is that no matter my own preparation, if my interviewee is unwilling to discuss certain things or engage with the interview in ways that I hope, there is little I can do about it given my amateur status as an oral history interviewer. Having said that, as mentioned above, I will do my best to endeavour to be a competent enough interviewer to show her that it is worth giving her time to answer my questions. Hopefully in this interview I shall get to know someone totally new to me practically from scratch, and learn a little their life, whether it be judged as exciting, extraordinary or normal by whomever afterwards.