It inevitably comes, the school project where your child must interview someone. Whether for career day, a research paper or family genealogy project, asking questions can make youngsters feel queasy. However, interviewing others is a skill that lasts well beyond graduation.
A graphic designer or architect must interview clients to understand expectations, painters question their subjects to decide what details will be included in final works. For the roles they’ll play, actresses interview others to gain insight and writers use questions to tell engaging stories.
Here are five tips to help the girls in your life feel more comfortable with the process:
1) Emphasize the importance of research
Knowing background information about a person or topic is the best way to create questions. It also shows respect towards the person being interviewed (and their time) and will make the interviewer feel more confident. Talk with your child about how they’re preparing for the conversation.
2) Discuss what it means to listen, to truly listen to someone
There are many adults in the world who struggle with this, even though listening comes up again and again as one of the most important skills for leaders. Tell your kiddo body language is important and that they need to both face forward and make eye contact with the person they’re interviewing. Nonverbal feedback, like nodding, also goes a long way. Recommend your child not interrupt someone who is sharing a story or thought, even if what they’re saying doesn’t seem relevant. It could be a stepping stone to something valuable.
3) Suggest open-ended questions and paying attention to details
What was that like? How did it make you feel? What did you learn from that? These are open-ended questions, which makes for good dialogue. If your child is going to someone’s home or office, recommend they pay attention to what’s on the walls or on a desk. Questions about those items could also lead to good stories. Take time to do a practice interview with your child before the real event.
4) Remind them to take notes and not be afraid to ask again
Notes should be taken throughout the interview, even if the conversation is being recorded (make sure the interviewee knows they’re being taped). Tell your child it’s ok to ask for clarification if she doesn’t understand something that was said. Most people will happily clarify a point.
5) Stress she must eliminate distractions
If they have one (and are not using it to record), advise the young interviewer to put their cell phone on silent and out of sight. Same goes for a smartwatch. Suggest they should arrive or be prepared to talk by phone at least 15 minutes before an interview is scheduled to start.
Don’t wait for the school assignment. Have your child interview someone important in their life, a grandparent, aunt, uncle or beloved neighbor. Add some fun to the project by having them take a portrait picture, create a sketch of the interviewee or film the conversation.
(Header photo by mentatdgt from Pexels)