There is more to a successful interview than arranging to talk to someone and asking questions.
Steps for a successful interview
- Be interested in the subject matter.
- Have a clear focus - know why you are conducting an interview.
- Do your research to find out as much you can about the person, the historical background and setting.
- What are you trying to find out?
- Make the purpose of your interview clear to the interviewee.
- Think about general topics, and work out clear and specific questions to ask.
- Listen to replies, and try to respond to them. This may mean you have to rephrase questions ‘on the spot’.
- Do not intrude - respect privacy and a reluctance on the part of the interviewee to talk.
- Be polite.
- Use a tape recorder but ask permission first.
- Transcribe the interview later and summarise the main points.
Act, but please be careful!
If you do decide to speak to people about their experiences of the war, be very careful and sensitive. Some people do not like speaking about the past, others enjoy it greatly. Some people still have powerful and disturbing memories and feelings about the war. You have to understand and respect the attitudes of people about the past - and particularly attitudes to the enemy. You may disagree with their views but we need to understand that Australia and the world were different then. We must try to see how our world has been shaped by events from the past. We may have different attitudes, values and needs today. Understand and respect, but do not necessarily adopt what you hear.
Good luck - you will enjoy it!