CONDUCTING IN-PERSON INTERVIEWS
By Elizabeth Bardsley
A writer told me that he makes a point to take the interviewees to dinner the night before he intends to start interviewing, and I think that that is a fabulous idea. It gives everyone a chance to become comfortable with one another and it is the perfect opportunity to encourage the subject to ask whatever questions they may have before you begin the interviews. If interesting stories start to be shared, just remind the subjects that you would like to include those in the recorded interview too.
Interviews with individuals whose rights have been optioned are typically transcribed and often times become the skeleton of a script annotation. For interviews to be most effectively utilized, a transcriber must be able to clearly hear the recording, decipher who is speaking and understand what is being said.
Avoid conducting your interviews in a restaurant, bar, automobile, while eating a meal, or in any location where there is background noise. Eliminate any possible distractions to the interview such as children, pets, or cell phones. Remember, for your recordings to be as potentially useful as possible, they need to be clear.
Again, be willing to look at whatever these individuals are willing to share with you, but remember to memorialize what you are observing on the audio recording. If they are showing you articles, state the publication and date and let the subject(s) talk to you about the items as well; if you end up wanting to use this material, you may well need recorded documentation.
Digital voice recorders can truly be a writer's best friend as they are fundamentally easy to use and offer an enormous amount of recording time. You can transfer your interviews to your computer quickly with a USB cable or flash drive for future use and email them directly to us for transcription.
In our office, we are currently using a Sony IC recorder, model PX333, that offers over a thousand hours of recording time.
No mater what recorder you use, take some time to get familiar with it before you schedule an interview. Don't take the chance of losing momentum or not getting your interview recorded. By the time you do your interview, you should be as comfortable with your recorder as you are with your keyboard. Take a moment before you start recording to remind the interviewees to verbally respond to questions [no one can transcribe a headshake], speak clearly, and avoid speaking over each other.