Interview Techniques

I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to have a lecture with Dr Jodie Taylor on Friday. Jodie, a lecturer at SAE, often hosts lectures on interview techniques and ethics. I have had many lectures with Jodie before and I always enjoy learning from her. The documentary I am working on this trimester is about a man and his legacy before he has a major surgery. We need to talk to him about how he feels about potentially dying and taking his stories with him. These are very sensitive topics and Jodie gave us some great feedback. We were taught about how to ask difficult questions without upsetting our talent too much. You need to have correct body language and also make the interviewee feel comfortable.

To practice this, Jodie had us ask difficult questions to our peers. I was the first to ask my friend about her first sexual encounter. I already knew that my friend was asexual so instead of asking her about her first sexual experience, I asked her when she realised she was asexual. Having the background information on that first hand was incredibly helpful as i knew i had to phrase the question a different way. If I had asked her about her sexual encounters without knowing her background, I could’ve easily offended her and if it was a different situation, there is the potential I could’ve triggered someone. That’s why getting as much background information before the interview process is so important.

The question my friend had to ask me was, ‘What was your childhood and family life like?’ instead of asking me that directly, she asked me about my parents and siblings, this in turn led me to talk about my childhood. I’m not a very closed off person and often discuss what i’ve gone through if someone asks. I did talk about things that i hadn’t to many people before though and I think it was because my friend was so open and understanding during the interview process.

Changing between interviewer and interviewee was a bit strange because it almost felt like a hierarchy shift. When I was interviewing I felt a lot more in control of the situation instead of when I was being interviewed. I also found myself talking more than I expected when I was interviewed, almost like I had to explain myself more. Switching roles definitely helped me realise how to conduct an interview well and make my interviewee feel comfortable. I was able to learn from my partner in what she did to encourage me to talk and also how I hold myself during interviews. I feel less nervous asking personal questions because I know how to do them safely and professionally.

During our Vox Pop exercises, i’ll be able to think more about what and how i’m asking to my interviewees. It’ll be a bit different because we won’t know the people we are interviewing so not having the background knowledge on someone is a bit intimidating but I believe using the techniques Jodie gave us will be extremely helpful.


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