Oral History Workshop – 8

Rules of an interview

Shahed Yazdan
Translated by M. B. Khoshnevisan


The oral history website is going to provide the educational materials of some oral history workshops to the audience in written form. The present series has been prepared using the materials of one of these workshops. As you will see, many of the provided contents are not original or less said contents, but we have tried to provide categorized contents so that they can be used more.




During the interview

The interviewer needs to observe the social rues during the interview. In this section, some of these rules are described.


Rules of an interview

● If the duration of each interview session is between 60 and 90 minutes, it is a good option and will give the best result.

● The place of the interview should be a place where the interviewee chooses and he or she feels more comfortable.

● The interviewer's body language is of great importance; Where to show states such as confirmation, surprise, etc. to the interviewee with different body postures or speak with hand gestures. There is no single version for this issue; the interviewer must determine the best way to use body language during the interview according to the culture, location, etc.

● The interval between two sessions depends on the researcher's discretion and does not include any rules, but some experts suggest that one interview session should be held every week.

● The meeting should have a "good start"; The interviewer should find this good start according to the mood of the interviewee.

● Before conducting an interview, the interviewer needs to review and remember the questions he or she has prepared for each meeting repeatedly; also, he or she should be prepared to ask the questions that may arise during the interview. Questions should not be asked in full in the interview session. Only the interviewer can write down some words in the notebook so that he or she does not forget.

● How the interviewer sits is also very important. Creating a balance between sitting too formally or too comfortably, as well as the position and angle of the interviewer in relation to the interviewee are things like this.

● Gaining the narrator's trust by the interviewer is very important. If the interviewee is sure about what he or she says or what he or she sees in the interview place, the interviewer is a trustworthy person.

● In some countries, to do an oral history work, a written legal contract is drawn up, and the interview starts after signing this contract. In this contract, things like identifying the owner of the work, permission to use and publish, violation of laws, etc. are seen.

● Every interview must have an identity certificate. For this purpose, at the beginning and end of the meeting, the interviewer speaks in one or two sentences about the name of the interviewee, the interview date, the location of the meeting, the number of meetings and its topic.


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