Eliciting a substantive story

Conducting a interview for a practitioner profile is both similar to and different from an ordinary conversation. Many daily conversation skills will be useful to you, like the skills you use when your friend is telling you a story about something that happened to her and you are curious to know more. Here are some common ways we encourage people to tell us a story:

But there are also ways this is not like an ordinary conversation. You are trying to “elicit” a profile or “mid-wife” a story that will teach what you want to learn. So here are some other things to think about:

Finally, we all have (usually unconsciously) internalized cultural norms related to asking people questions about their lives. These will differ, depending on the cultures in which we were raised. But it can help to think about what these norms are for you. If asking questions is difficult, it may help to remember that interviewing takes active work. It is your job to join with your interviewee to bring their story to life. Most people will be glad for your help.

Listen to audio clips of some experienced interviewers ....