Research: Interviews Part Two

I did the first interview last week! Or, more accurately, I did a practice interview with my community partner.

The first interview is the most difficult for me because I get nervous, asking:

  • What if my questions are poorly written?
  • What if the recording does not work?
  • What if I come across as uninformed?
  • What if the participant feels I have wasted their time?
  • How silly am I going to sound in the recording?

Within the last post on interviews, I considered the steps leading up to the interviews. This post expands on step two, considering the prep work immediately after the interview is scheduled. More specifically I am answering:

What preparation do I do mitigate the nervousness described above?

What if my questions are poorly written?

My question guide is available here:

This is not an “if” issue. One or more of my questions are likely poorly written. However, during the first interview, problems did not arise when I read the questions as they were written. My bigger problem is that when I adjust the questions to better fit the conversation and connect to what we’re discussing, I fumble.

Other than spending time writing and editing the question guide at the beginning, I don’t know how to better prepare for this issue. Suggestions are welcome.

What if the recording does not work?

This is my nightmare: I go home, attempt to download the audio, and it is missing or corrupted.

I do not know what I would do in that situation. Cry?

So, I do my best to avoid it at all costs. In the last interviews post, I asked: How would you record phone conversations?

I am making two recordings in an attempt to avoid my nightmare and ensure at least one works:

  1. TapeACall: I did some searching and this seems to be a good app to record conversations on an iPhone with a decent paid transcription function. Before using it for an interview, I called my dad and had a random conversation about tools. It seems to work well.
  2. Speakerphone and a recorder: My backup is a regular audio recorder, which I have used in other projects for in person interviews.

With two recording methods, fingers crossed the recording will always work… I have spare batteries prepped for the recorder and everything!

What if I come across as uninformed?

As I outlined in the last interview post, some pre-research is required because it helps me ask better questions and avoid annoying people. If someone has already expressed themselves on a topic, but I want more information it helps to say something like: “In _____ you said ______. Could you expand a bit? I am not sure I understand _______.”

While research helps, the purpose of interviews is to learn from the participants so, of course, I am less informed than they are. This is a silly concern.

What if the participant feels I have wasted their time?

I am constantly worried people will feel I have wasted their time when I interview them. However, generally speaking, the museum community is extremely willing to help facilitate research about the museum community. More broadly, people like talking about themselves and believe their work is worth sharing. So, the best thing to do, is to come prepared and make sure the participants know how much I appreciate their time.

How silly am I going to sound in the recording?

Very. I am going to sound very silly in the recording. Listening to my own voice is awful. Nothing can be done.


Do you have any suggestions on how to avoid nervousness and prepare for a good interview?

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