Oral History Interview & Importance Part 2

Characteristics of an Interviewer

Hamid Qazvini
Translated by Natalie Haghverdian

2017-04-26


Besides being versed in interview techniques, it is necessary for oral history interviewer to have other characteristics to realize intended objectives.

Interviewers shall not perceive such activity as an occupation with mere financial objectives. Oral history has to be a cultural and social mission with deep roots in the history and heritage of a society and nation. It is essential for the oral history interviewer to have sufficient knowledge on the subject. Lack of scientific knowledge and information not only hinders his/her understanding of the memoir but also prevents the interviewer from asking the right questions and steering the interview in the right direction.

The interviewer shall be capable of asking questions and describing the main objectives to encourage and engage the narrator. Considering that oral history interview is perceived as research and study in its own right, it is vital to keep the spirit of research and query to discover the truth and to dig the unsaid information and stories.

Also, another threat to oral history interview is affiliation and bias of the interviewer against some political and social events and movements which will prevent him/her from asking relevant questions or will steer the interview in to a different direction. The interviewer, as an impartial researcher, shall implement and lead the interview free from any personal attitude and affiliation.

On the other hand, one of the key elements in oral history is maintaining honesty and preventing any lies or record of untruth claims. Also, the interviewer shall be loyal to the content of the interview and observe the confidentiality rule. He/she must recognize that disorganization and diversion not only affects the relationship between the narrator and the interviewer but also tarnishes the interview.

Patience and the power to control ones emotional and psychological anxiety or dither and maintaining focus are other essential characteristics for an interviewer. The interview might take hours or problems might emerge which result in pique and loss of concentration. Hence, precipitancy and lack of control over anxiety will seriously damage the mutual relation.

The other important aspect is that despite recording the whole interview the interviewer shall have a good memory to remember various events; interview management requires creativity and innovation which might prove to be a necessity under different circumstances.

In other words, it is essential for an oral history interviewer to acquire all key characteristics and techniques to start.

The main and key features of a capable interviewer in general are as follows:

  1. High cultural and social interest and motivation and recognition of the importance of oral history
  2. Proper level of education and general and technical information to conduct interviews
  3. Capability to establish and maintain a line of communication with the narrator and having communication skills
  4. Having proper rhetorical technique
  5. Having the spirit of research and study
  6. Interview capability
  7. Impartiality and freedom from bias against people and various political and social events
  8. Binding to moral ethics such as: honesty, secrecy, modesty, trusteeship
  9. Being organized and punctual in keeping appointments
  10. Having patience and ability to control emotions and self-control during interviews
  11. Concentration and integrity
  12. Good memory
  13. Innovation and creativity
  14. Skills in employing various audio-visual devises
  15. High IQ
  16. Avoiding arguments
  17. High sensitivity
  18. Being a good listener

 



 
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