Friday, April 22, 2016

The Art of the Interview

Today, I'm attending a workshop I am pretty sure I could teach myself, but it is always good to get another perspective. The workshop is called "The Art of the Interview" and is an oral history workshop. As an oral historian, I interview people for a living. The thing about the type of interviewing I do is first and foremost you have to know how to listen. You have to be an active listener, which means you have to pick up on clues and be able to ask follow-up questions. Sometimes a person is so good at telling their own story that there isn't a need for follow-up questions, but most people need to be prompted to get their whole story.

Also, as an active listener (and because the interview is recorded and will be transcribed), the less I talk the better. I have to be able to give encouraging but nonverbal clues that I am listening. This is where some people have a problem. They inject too much of themselves into the interview. My job as an oral historian is to listen and get the interviewees story, not to give my own story. It's an interesting job and I love it. I look forward to learning more today.

I know I have not really talked much about my job before, just that I work at a museum. There are many other things I do besides interview people. I'm constantly searching for people to interview. I also have to process the audio and get it ready for transcription as well as editing the transcripts and getting them approved. Once that is done then it's all about archiving them. Also, I work on making the interviews a part of the exhibits. It makes for an interesting job. On top of all that, (and my own novel I am writing), these oral histories will make up a book that tells the story of the men and women of the university where I work.

Have I said before that I love my job? Yes, there are stresses, but all in all, I love going to work. I love the opportunities that come with my job as well.

1 comment:

Michael Dodd said...

Your job sounds fascinating. I love hearing people tell their stories, but I admit I would be one of those folks who would jump in and share my own memories when one was sparked by what was said. (one of the pleasures of reading other people's blogs and being free to comment!)I see why oral historians need training.