Interviewing humans

Interviewing humans explains what methods should we use to approach every interview and get the best of it.

Doing a good job while interviewing people surely comes with time and experience. It’s not about being a good speaker, but to know how to listen and make follow-up questions, in order to engage the conversation in general and get results from it.

“Conducting a good interview is actually about shutting up” Erika Hall

An interview guide is crucial to lead a conversation throughout the whole session, which includes the purpose and objective of study, as well a variety of questions from demographics, warm-up to primary focus. We also must do some research if we’re not very confident with the topic in question, which will be easier for us to contextualise all the information we gather.

We need to make sure we have all the requirements to deliver a proper interview along with the best environment possible.

“Create a welcoming atmosphere to make participants feel at ease.” Erika Hall

A basic interview structure is needed, as it will help with each different phase of the conversation. These will convey wisdom when dealing with anyone in particular, showing that we’re well prepared. As everything, it must have a start, middle and end.

1.Introduction / 2.Body / 3.Conclusion

  1. Introduce yourself and describe the purpose of interview, make sure you’ll clear about the process.
  2. Start asking open-ended questions to avoid getting poor answers such as YES/NO and ask follow up questions if there’s need to know more about a particular subject or topic.
  3. Ask if the person in question wants to talk about anything else within the topic and don’t be afraid to end it early if the interview is not being compensated.

“Create a welcoming atmosphere to make participants feel at ease. Always listen more than you speak. Take responsibility to accurately convey the thoughts and behaviors of the people you are studying. Conduct your research in the natural context of the topic you’re studying. Start each interview with a general description of the goal, but be careful of focusing responses too narrowly. Encourage participants to share their thoughts and go about their business.” Erika Hall


I don’t have much experience when it relates to interviewing people but I did it once.

It was a documentary about a popular genre of music in Portugal called fado, which became world heritage later on.

I could say that there were things that worked out such as starting with simple and informal questions to make the person in question more comfortable and accessible. I also noticed if we as interviewers let people talk as much as they can, everything goes smooth and it’s a win win for both sides.

The environment itself could be less noisy, but apart from it, things went very well actually.

It was quite good hearing the person involved talking with such passion about that particular subject that he was involved in and what memories he had from it.

After recording the whole interview, we reviewed and went through the whole editing process. We wanted to make sure the voice was clear and loud, as well the main topics covered.