Interviewing Sins

  1. Questions which are unnecessarily long
  2. Questions which are not clear
  3. Questions, too frequently, which are answerable by 'yes' or 'no'
  4. Combining several questions into one
  5. Interrupting a speaker with a secondary question before he has finished answering the first
  6. Failing to press a question which has not been fully or satisfactorily answered
  7. Seeking, too often, for opinions and attitudes (particularly without establishing any factual basis for them)
  8. Missing opportunities for follow-up questions which are 'invited' by earlier answers
  9. Not asking for specific examples to illustrate general points which an informant has made
  10. Jumping to and fro between one subject and another, or one time period and another.

The final transcript of a recorded interview can provide revealing evidence about how effectively the interviewer has done his job. For similar reasons as reviewing the recordings, the transcript merits study. Perhaps the clearest indication that preparation was inadequate or the interviewer somehow lost his way, is to be found in the balance between questions and answers. If the interviewer occupies a disproportionate amount of transcript text, then it is likely that something has gone amiss!