Earlier this week I conducted my first data stories interview. Up to this point, I have mostly been immersed in the story writing side of the project, so it was great to be involved in the story collection process.
My first interviewee was very pleasant and easy to talk with. After chatting and getting to know each other a bit, we moved on to discussing some of the specific interview questions. For me, the most challenging aspect of the interview was using the predetermined questions to drive towards some unknown story. Since I was essentially meeting the interviewee for the first time, I was unsure of what types of experiences she was likely to have had or want to share. When I was unsure of where to direct the conversation, I relied on intuition (and my handy sheet of interview questions) to further pursue a topic or move on the next.
After the interview, I turned to the next step: transcribing the discussion. For those that have never completed a transcription, it is certainly one of the less glamorous features of the interview process. Transcribing can be dull and time consuming, but it’s also pretty cathartic. Not only does it give your mind the chance to wander, but each deliberate keystroke also allows your brain to really process the interview’s content. Once the transcription was complete, I felt like I had a better grasp of the interviewee’s story and a clearer idea of how I would tell it.
With another interview scheduled for the coming week and a couple more possibilities on the horizon, something tells me I’ll have plenty of opportunities to improve my technique, as well as meet many accomplished scientists and researchers along the way!