Reading Ahead: The Interview Guide
Before we go out in the field we write an interview guide (or field guide), a list of all the topics we want to cover.
Interview guides end up being very linear and structured, but the interactions we have in the field are looser and more conversational. We’ll let the way we pose our questions flow much more from what the person we’re interviewing is saying than from the sequence and phrasings of the interview guide.
Even though we know this will happen, we’ve still been working hard to hash out our questions ahead of time–even the basic ones. It’s like John McLaughlin said about jazz improvisation: you have to learn all the chords so that you can forget about them.
The interview guide is also something for everyone (including our clients) to look at, to make sure we’re all on the same page as we head into fieldwork.
Our interview guide for Reading Ahead is here.