Skip to main content
Link to Libraries homepage
Link to Libraries homepage
Rutgers University Libraries

Mission Course of Douglass Residential College: Interview Resources

This guide is for students in the mission course of Douglass Residential College.

What is an Oral History and Interview Questions

Links: Interview Archives

Links: Interview Clips

Links to clips used in the Knowledge & Power library sessions:

Checking out Digital Recorders

The Media Center at Douglass Library has digital audio recorders and video cameras available for check out. To make sure that they are available when you need it, please use the Equipment Booking Form . For information on equipment booking, please contact Media Center at 848-932-5034. 

Websites, Books and Articles

 Anderson, Kathryn and Dana C. Jack. “Learning to Listen: Interview Techniques and Analyses”. Women’s Words: The Feminist Practice of Oral History. Gluck, Sherna Berger and Daphne Patai, eds. New York: Routledge, 1991.

Borland, Katherine. “’That’s Not What I Said’: Interpretive Conflict in Oral Narrative Research”. Women’s Words: The Feminist Practice of Oral History. Gluck, Sherna Berger and Daphne Patai, eds. New York: Routledge, 1991.

Ellis, Carolyn and Leigh Berger. “Their Story/My Story/Our Story: Including the Reseacher’s Experiences in the Interview Research”. Handbook of Interview Research: context and Method. Gubrium, Jaber F. and James A. Holstein, eds. Thousand Oaks: Sage, 2001.

Hesse-Biber, Sharlene Nagy and Patricia Leavy, eds. Approaches to Qualititative Research: A Reader of Theory and Practice. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004.

Maines, Mary Jo, Jennifer L. Pierce, and Barbara Laslett. Telling Stories: the Use of Personal Narratives in the Social Sciences and History. Ithaka: Cornell University Press, 2008.

Reinharz, Shulamit and Susan E. Chase. “Interviewing Women”. Handbook of Interview Research: Context and Method. Gubrium, Jaber F. and James A. Holstein, eds. Thousand Oaks: Sage, 2001.

*** Ritchie, Donald A. Doing Oral History: A Practical Guide. New York: Oxford University Press, 2015. 

Tang, Ning. "Interviewer and Interviewee Relationships Between Women." Sociology 36.3 (Sage): 703-721.

Warren, Carol A. B. “Qualitative Interviewing”. Handbook of Interview Research: Context and Method. Gubrium, Jaber F. and James A. Holstein, eds. Thousand Oaks: Sage, 2001.

Interview Tips

INTERVIEW TIPS

Before the Interview

  • Research the interview subject ahead of time for basic information such as date of birth, education, and professional background, as much as possible. This will help you tailor your questions
  • Prepare the interview questions and share them with the interview subject ahead of time.
  • Explain the purpose of the interview and introduce yourself.
  • Email/telephone the interview subject to confirm interview date/time. Be willing to reschedule the interview if necessary.
  • Make sure the recording device works, and bring extra batteries. Bring a pen and a notepad to make notes if necessary.

At the Interview

  • Introduce yourself (high school attended, career of interest, etc.). The point is not your biography, but to put the interviewee at ease.
  • Explain the purpose of the interview, and provide a sense of the format of the interview and estimated time commitment.
  • Arrive with questions prepared. Sensitive questions should be left for the end, after you have established rapport, trust and respect.
  • Explain to the interview subject beforehand that they should only respond to what they are comfortable talking about with you.
  • Ask one question at a time. Be prepared to stray from your questions in order to ask follow-up questions relevant to what your respondent tells you. Let the interviewee do the talking.
  • Respect your interview subject’s time. When the time is up, check to see if you should wrap it up.
  • Respectfully ask follow up questions during the interview, particularly if there is something you don’t understand, or are unfamiliar with.
  • Keep a positive and supportive attitude during the interview; make eye contact, nod your head, and/or make other physical, but non-verbal affirming gestures.
  • Refrain from saying “mhmm,” “yes,” or sharing stories that you would provide in a typical conversation.
  • Give your interview subject time if they become upset as they describe part of their history. If a topic is of a highly personal nature, you can also ask if they would like to continue talking with the recording device off, and off-record.
  • If your interview subject is enjoying the experience and wants to talk further, consider bringing the conversation back to the topics of interest.
  • Thank your interviewee for their time, and if appropriate, send them a thank you card and a digital copy of their interview for their keeping.

Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, an equal access/equal opportunity institution. Individuals with disabilities are encouraged to direct suggestions, comments, or complaints concerning any accessibility issues with Rutgers web sites to: accessibility@rutgers.edu or complete the Report Accessibility Barrier / Provide Feedback Form.