Seven Steps to Interviewing Someone

Nothing beats a direct one-on-one interview for learning about the community and building relationships. Such interviews offer us a chance to get to know our neighbors in their own settings.  A basic unstructured interview may be the easiest type of interview to perform. Follow these seven steps.

  1. Access the setting. How do you “get in to” wherever the interview will take place? This question must be asked because interviews typically do not take place on your own turf but in the field. In order to interview someone, you need to enter their setting, not invite them to yours.
  2. Understand the language and culture. An interpreter may help you understand the person you interview, but that is no guarantee you will understand the culture. If you are non-Hispanic, for instance, pay special attention to cultural cues from Hispanic culture.
  3. Decide how to present yourself. Dressing up or dressing down means something different to blue-collar workers than suburban professionals. Best practice: try matching your dress to that of the person being interviewed.
  4. Locate an informant. This person can act as a guide to the local culture and its distinctive idiom.
  5. Gain trust. Trust may not an issue for persons who enjoy being outspoken, but it may be essential if you are talking about sensitive matters like sexuality, finance, or personal habits.
  6. Establish rapport. Developing a strong connection between you and the person you interview can open the door to a deeper dive into important information.
  7. Collect the data. How will you record what you find out? The most thorough techniques (video or audio), may seem the best, yet they might be the most intrusive.


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