To conduct an ethnographic interview, students were instructed to do the following:
Choose someone who is a part of your everyday life to interview about an aspect of their experience that is relevant to your own life or of interest to you. Your goal will be to conduct an open-ended, informal interview reflecting their experiences.
Draft three to five open-ended interview questions or prompts that will allow your interviewee to tell the story of their experience.
Conduct your interview. Carve out time to talk with your interviewee and ask them the questions you’ve drafted. You do not have to strictly stick to these questions. Open-ended interview questions mean that you can go where your interviewee’s answers take you.
During Step 2, you will take notes as your interviewee speaks. Try to follow as they speak while writing down key words or phrases that will jog your memory when writing up your interview notes post-interview. Try not to ask your interviewee to slow down or stop; instead, follow the flow of their conversation writing minimal notes-you will be surprised how much you recall later.
Write up your interview notes in narrative form. As soon as possible to when you complete your interview, sit with your notes, and write them into full sentences detailing what you asked and how the interviewee answered. Try to capture as much first-person dialogue from the interview as possible. You will paraphrase to an extent but strive to capture your interviewees language and phrasing as closely as possible.
Tips for The Ethnographic Interview:
- A great interview can really enhance an ethnography or autoethnography.
- Ask open ended questions and encourage storytelling!
- Let people know that you want to hear all about them, as much as they can tell you—stories, anecdotes, everything they’re willing to share!
- Avoid yes or no questions and make people think they’re the most interesting person on the planet to you.
- Take notes sparingly and write up your interview into prose soon after you’ve completed it.
- Be creative! Don’t be afraid to leave things out that seem of less relevance or interest to you and the story you want to tell. Use direct quotes to add color and dimension to your writing!