Third in a series of seven blog posts on interviewing techniques to draw out people’s most authentic stories.
It can be hard to interview members of your own family. If I interviewed my sister I might feel she was mocking me – she always teases me! My brother is a man of few words, so we might not get out of the shallow end of the conversation.
You might be thinking of interviewing your dad, or mom, or aunt, or grandfather about their memories, their life story. When you interview someone you know, the relationship in that moment changes. The interviewer can turn up in the room as anything between therapist and interrogator, which is not what you usually are to your colleague, friend, or family member. Probably.
One solution can be to bring in an outside interviewer. Maybe it’s a professional writer, or maybe it’s a family friend, a colleague, or a college student. This other person needs to be someone you can trust to apply all of these great interviewing principles, but they will have a little distance and be able to ask the important questions more easily than you would.
Consider making it a three-way conversation. Often if I am interviewing a husband and wife, I will interview them both together and separately, because the dynamic in the room shifts.
Worried that your father will be offended by how little you know about him? In my next post I’ll talk about why you don’t need to worry about that.