In Class Interviewing Focal Point

Tell me the story behind one interesting item you have.

1) Choose an object (follow your interviewee’s lead)
2) Take Observational notes. Describe the object. Use your senses (touch, sound, smell) when appropriate.
3) Take personal notes. Knowing the power of the interviewer to shape the outcome, be sure you are aware of your position and your assumptions. For example, if the object is a gold ring, notice if you find yourself wondering how much it costs and speculating on the interviewee’s economic status or pronouncing it gaudy.
4) Interview the informant. Ask questions and takes notes on the story behind the object. Who is involved in it? Why is it important? How does the interviewee use it? How does the interviewee value it?
5) Theorize. How is this object a metaphor for the personality or character of the interviewee.
6) Write 2-3 paragraphs that describe the object, tell the story behind the object, and present the object as a metaphor that brings the interviewee alive for a reader, that helps a reader know your interviewee.
7) Exchange with your interviewee and discuss what is spot on, surprising, and what the interviewee thinks you got wrong. At this point, the interviewee can point out what you didn’t ask but should have asked, what answers you didn’t follow up on.
8) Reflect. What have you learned about yourself as an interviewer/profiler. What are your strengths as an interviewer? What are your weaknesses? What felt awkward? What interfered with your ability to ask the right questions.

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