Interviews are a terrific way of learning more detailed information from a smaller number of participants, and are often used as a supplement to surveys. They can provide richness and meaning, since they are more open-ended in nature. You may want to purposely select participants for interviewing that may represent varied perspectives.
Although there are different approaches to interviewing, here we are referring to informal, conversational interviews.
A successful interview:
• Relies on thoughtful questions, yet moves with the natural flow of conversation.
• Maintains maximum flexibility to go where the interviewee leads.
• Is based on thoughtful, probing, and yet, not leading, questions.
• May take time!
• Shouldn’t feel like an interview, but rather like a conversation!
An interview asks questions about:
• What a participant has done in a program.
• Skills acquired in a program.
• The participant’s feelings about him- or herself, and attitudes as a result of the program.
• Behavior that may change as a result of the program.
• What the participant believes are a program’s strengths and weaknesses.
• What the participant would change about a program.
Adapting the interview:
Consider allowing youth to give interviews as pairs. They may be intimidated by interacting with a different leader and may feel more comfortable with a peer. On the flip side, be wary of big groups. Often the stronger personalities in the group will dominate and youth who are quieter won’t have a chance to share their feedback and ideas.
Invite a reporter or journalist from the local paper to interview the youth in your program. This is a great way to find out what youth think about the program and what youth have been learning about. You’ll get some great press out of the visit and also be able to stand back, observe, and listen. Keep a note pad handy so you can jot down answers to questions and record memorable quotes.