Zukiswa being interviewed.

Interviewing – In Relation to our Project

In preparation for the interviews of The Big Issue Vendors, we had to research the best questions to ask. We had to overcome reserved vendors and a language barrier. Our questions had to be easily translatable and also very insightful in order to get useful information that helped portray who the vendors are. We did this by focusing on the high and low points of the vendors lives, asking them deeper questions without diving too deep, so that they remained comfortable with us. Luckily many of the vendors understood our project and wanted to get their stories heard. They provided us with many details and gave us guidance on what was acceptable to go online and what was off the record. “The Life Story Interview” written by Dan McAdams (2008) was a guide that helped us through this whole process.

Interviewing Tips – Learning How to Interview

In the article “The Life Story Interview”, McAdams explains that when a person is talking about their life, it should be thought of as if it were a book. The focus should be on a key scene that occurred in an individual’s life. The scene should stand out for either a good or bad reason. It should be vivid, important, and memorable. The scene must be explained in grave detail, such as who was involved, and what was the storyteller thinking and feeling. A main point about this moment that needs to be explained is why it was important to their life.

Key scenes to focus on are high and low points in a person’s life. For the low point the interviewee should explain why this point was so bad. Sometimes a person may not want to share their lowest point; in these instances, they can be invited to share a bad experience. Whenever they do share any low point, they should also share a turning point in their life.

The interviewee should include memories, such as positive childhood memories, negative childhood memories, and vivid adult memories. When they finish talking about the memory they should discuss how this has affected them as a person. Challenges are also an important topic to bring up, including challenges related to health, loss, failure, or regret. The main outcome should show how the interviewee handled and grew from that challenge.

It is good to have the interviewee discuss where they see themselves in the future; their dreams, hopes and plans for the future. If the interviewee has goals, the interviewer must learn whether that is something they have been working to finish or just a challenge they want to overcome.

The interviewer is responsible for finding a theme between the stories the interviewee shares. This will help in the reflection of the interview. Reflection is good for the interviewee so that they can process all they have shared and leave the interview feeling empowered by the fact they let others into their life (McAdams, 2008).

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